Cancer Essay

Length: 3786 words

Of all the diseases and viruses that are known to man, no other can strike fear in so many peoples hearts, as the word cancer. What is cancer? “Cancer is a new growth of tissue resulting from a continuous proliferation of abnormal cells that have the ability to invade and destroy other tissues.”1 Cancer may be found in any type of cell or tissue in the human body. Cancer is not found in just humans, but also in animals and plants. Cancer cells can grow where ever normal cells grow or divide. Cancer is not one disease but many single diseases classified under one name.2 In our bodies we produce many thousands of new cells everyday. We produce these cell in order to grow until we reach adulthood. When we reach adulthood, these cells reproduce primarily to heal wounds and to replace the cells that have died.3 When we look at a cancerous cells, we see that it divides endlessly. As the cell divides and multiplies, it takes up more and more of the space that the healthy cells once had to work in. These cells will take up more and more space until they are able to move

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into new areas of the body or the organism in which they live dies. This process of moving to new sites within the body is called metastasis.

4 1. Robert A. Weiberg, “Racing to the Beginning of the Road”,Random House 1996, pg. XI. 2. Excerpted from “Comptons Interactive Encyclopedia”,1994,NewMedia, Inc. 3. R. Grant Steen, “The Basic Science of Cancer”, Plenum Press, 1993, pg. 31. 4. Steven A. Rosenberg, “The Transformed Cell” G.P. Putnams Sons, 1992, pg. 341. There are many different types of cancer. Out of the hundreds of different types of cancer, there are three sub types to help classify the different types of cancer. First, “Sarcomas, arise from connective and supportive tissue such as bone, cartilage, blood vessels, muscle and fat.” Second, “Carcinomas, which include the most frequently occurring forms of human cancer, arise from epithelial tissue, such as the skin and the lining of the body cavities and organs, and the glandular tissue of the breast and prostrate. Carcinomas with a structure resembling skin are termed squamous cell carcinomas.

Those that resemble glandular tissue are called adenocarcinomas.” Third, ” Leukemias and lymphomas include the cancers that involve blood forming tissues and are typified by the enlargement of the lymph nodes, the invasion of the spleen and bone marrow and the over production of immature white cells.”5 The only number greater than the number of different types of cancer is the number of people found to have these deadly diseases. One million new cases of cancer are diagnosed in the United States alone each year. Five hundred thousand die each 5. Excerpted from “Comptons Interactive Encyclopedia”, 1994. year from this disease. “It is also estimated that about 30% of the Americans living today, or 76 million Americans will develop cancer in their lifetime.”6 As scientist search to cure this terrifying disease, with the help of millions of dollars in donations, we still do not even know what causes cancer to invade.

We do understand that the diseases likeliness to form is heightened with the different environments that people live in. Researchers see that with constant contact with carcinogens, substances that promote the development of cancer, is almost a guarantee that the person will develop cancer at some point in their life. Chemicals, radiation and viruses are the main types of carcinogens. Constant exposure to these carcinogens cause gene abnormalities that can be inherited or induced in a body cell. These cells can also be damaged by outside sources. After many mutations from these carcinogens, it is thought that mutations will occur and will produce a malignant cell that will copy itself into many cancerous cells. Viruses are the cause of about 15% of all cancers. The virus is able to invade cells and cause them to synthesize new viral particles; viruses carry oncogenes that can 6. Excerpted from “Encarta Encyclopedia”, 1997. infect cells and cause malignant transformation. “Chromosomal structure change has been observed in 90% of all human cancer.

Chromosomes are the repository for all genetic information required to build a cell.” 7 Chromosomal changes are now considered as common in malignant cells and used to diagnosis cancer. It is said that about 80% of all the cases of cancer which are discovered each year are from environmental factors. Skin cancer for example can be caused by prolonged periods in the sun. Smoke is said to cause lung cancer. Cancers can be found in people who work with industrial chemicals such as; asbestos, uranium, aniline dyes, arsenic, vinyl chloride, ethylene oxide, benzene, formaldehyde, pesticides and herbicides. 30% of deaths in the United States are smoking related. Dietary factors may account for 40% of deaths from cancer. High fat diets, which are low in fiber can induce colon cancer.

Another promoter of cancer is alcohol. If alcohol and tobacco are used together the risk of cancer to the mouth, larynx, throat, liver and esophagus is greatly enhanced. 8 Even though many different types of cancer are caused by chemicals, radiation, viruses and other sources, it has been found that 20% of cancers are based on inheritance. Some cancers are able to survive in families for generations. Even with such a large number as 20%, only a few cancers are thought to be caused by inheritance. The two 7. R. Grant Steen, “A Conspiracy of Cells” Plenum Press, 1993, page 5. 8. Mark Renneker, “Cancer”, Chelsea House, 1990, pg. 34. major cancers thought to be Inherited are breast cancer and colon cancer. There is no rhyme or reason why these diseases run through some families but not others. Hopefully, someday, with our scientific advancements we will be able to save many lives. Even scarier than generations of families dying from the same horrible disease, is the way in which cancer spreads through the human body.

Some cancers will grow and develop in one part of the body and will never really become dangerous as long as they are detected and removed. The more dangerous cancer cells are the tumors that travel through the body and replace healthy cells with the tainted, fast growing cancer cells. “Normal tissue will be covered and will have cancerous cells running through it, each cell which is now potentially capable of forming a new tumor even if the original tumor mass is surgically removed.9 It seems that these malignant tumors are almost unstoppable. They grow and reproduce at an astonishing rate. Even though they do this very quickly, some cancers follow a very predictable pattern. For example, breast and prostrate cancers usually infect bone and melanomas. Kidney cancer is much the same and usually spreads to the lungs. Although we are aware of these trends, scientist are still unable to stop this infectious disease.

9. R. Grant Steen, “Aconspiracy of Cells”, Plenum Press, 1993, pg.93. Five of the major cancers that have become the most predominate of all the cancers are the ones that affect blood forming tissues; lungs, skin, breasts, colon and rectum. These are the standouts and the most deadly of all the cancers. The type of cancer that effect blood forming tissues are leukemias. Leukemia means white blood. Leukemia causes the body to produce an abnormal number of immature white blood cells. This makes the body susceptible to infection. Leukemia makes up only 3% of all cancers, but what makes this disease so deadly is who it affects. Children are the most at risk for this disease. 10 We live in a very warm and sunny climate, because of this skin cancer is very prevalent. There are two types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. These types of cancers are both very dangerous cancers.

They are found in all areas of the body which are exposed to the sun. The areas of the body which are most affected are the hands, face and ears. As long as these diseases are found in the early stages, there is good prognosis for complete cure. Melanomas are more dangerous because they metastasize much more quickly than normal cancer cells and can spread throughout the body. 10. Steven A. Rosenberg, “The Transformed Cells”, G.P. Putnams Sons, 1992. Pg.57. Lung cancer is one of the most deadly cancers and is extremely hard to diagnosis. People are unable to detect the disease within them because the symptoms are not exposed until its final stages. The symptoms are a cough, spetum streaked with blood, chest pain, repeated attacks of pneumonia or bronchitis. The five year survival rate is only 14% overall. This cancer takes the greatest amounts of lives. The cancer that plagues one out of every ten women is breast cancer.

Women as they become older, at about the age of 50, become more susceptible to this form of cancer. Through studies, we have found that over weight women with high fat diets are much more susceptible. Doctors highly recommend self examinations and mammograms to help women protect themselves from this disease. Breast cancer is one of the easiest cancers to be treated if detected at an early stage. 11 The second most common of all cancers is colon and rectal cancer. 70% of all cancers found in large intestines are found in the colon and the other 30% are found in the rectum. Symptoms are constipation, diarrhea, bloody stools and a change in bowel habits. This cancer can also be successfully treated if found in its earliest stages. 11. American Cancer Society, “The American Cancer Society Cancer Book”, Doubleday, There are several different types of cancer treatments. Surgery is the most effective and the most used.

About 50% of patients are also treated with radiation. Surgery is often used if the tumor is localized. If the surgeon can remove the entire cancer, the patient may be completely cured. Even if the cancer has metastasized, surgery can often stop the disease from spreading any further.12 Radiation is a very good attempt to stop this invasive disease. About 50% of all people who have cancer receive radiation therapy. The way in which the cancer is attacked is by damaging the cancer cells by covering them with radiation. The treatment is very effective, except that the healthy cells around the tumor are also damaged. The treatments must be timed for maximum effect because the healthy cells need time to repair. Chemotherapy is the next most effective treatment after radiation. It is used after surgery and is very effective. Chemotherapy is about 50 drugs which are administered to stop the growth of the cancer or just delay the growth. The drugs often have many very severe side effects. They have a tendency to cause temporary hair loss, vomiting and nausea. Chemotherapy like radiation, damages healthy cells as well as the cancerous cells but is more effective than the radiation when the cancer has spread throughout the body.

Today there are more new drugs which help with the side effects of chemotherapy.13 12. Excerpted from “Comptons Interactive Encyclopedia” 1994. 13. American Cancer Society , “American Cancer Society Cancer Book”, Doubleday, 1986, pg.104. Cancer today is treated by the clinician and the scientist. ” The doctors cannot expect to increase the success of their treatment of cancer without ongoing input from basic scientists concerned with cancer research.” 14 Both the doctors and scientists must become more tolerant of each other and the science of biology must come together with the art of medicine to help find a real cure for this disease. 14. R. Grant Steen, “The Conspiracy of Cells”, Plenum Press, 1993, pg. 383. Bibliography: Of all the diseases and viruses that are known to man, no other can strike fear in so many peoples hearts, as the word cancer. What is cancer? “Cancer is a new growth of tissue resulting from a continuous proliferation of abnormal cells that have the ability to invade and destroy other tissues.”1 Cancer may be found in any type of cell or tissue in the human body.

Cancer is not found in just humans, but also in animals and plants. Cancer cells can grow where ever normal cells grow or divide. Cancer is not one disease but many single diseases classified under one name.2 In our bodies we produce many thousands of new cells everyday. We produce these cell in order to grow until we reach adulthood. When we reach adulthood, these cells reproduce primarily to heal wounds and to replace the cells that have died.3 When we look at a cancerous cells, we see that it divides endlessly. As the cell divides and multiplies, it takes up more and more of the space that the healthy cells once had to work in. These cells will take up more and more space until they are able to move into new areas of the body or the organism in which they live dies.

This process of moving to new sites within the body is called metastasis.4 1. Robert A. Weiberg, “Racing to the Beginning of the Road”,Random House 1996, pg. XI. 2. Excerpted from “Comptons Interactive Encyclopedia”,1994,NewMedia, Inc. 3. R. Grant Steen, “The Basic Science of Cancer”, Plenum Press, 1993, pg. 31. 4. Steven A. Rosenberg, “The Transformed Cell” G.P. Putnams Sons, 1992, pg. 341. 1. There are many different types of cancer. Out of the hundreds of different types of cancer, there are three sub types to help classify the different types of cancer. First, “Sarcomas, arise from connective and supportive tissue such as bone, cartilage, blood vessels, muscle and fat.” Second, “Carcinomas, which include the most frequently occurring forms of human cancer, arise from epithelial tissue, such as the skin and the lining of the body cavities and organs, and the glandular tissue of the breast and prostrate. Carcinomas with a structure resembling skin are termed squamous cell carcinomas. Those that resemble glandular tissue are called adenocarcinomas.”

Third, ” Leukemias and lymphomas include the cancers that involve blood forming tissues and are typified by the enlargement of the lymph nodes, the invasion of the spleen and bone marrow and the over production of immature white cells.”5 The only number greater than the number of different types of cancer is the number of people found to have these deadly diseases. One million new cases of cancer are diagnosed in the United States alone each year. Five hundred thousand die each 5. Excerpted from “Comptons Interactive Encyclopedia”, 1994. 2. year from this disease. “It is also estimated that about 30% of the Americans living today, or 76 million Americans will develop cancer in their lifetime.”6 As scientist search to cure this terrifying disease, with the help of millions of dollars in donations, we still do not even know what causes cancer to invade. We do understand that the diseases likeliness to form is heightened with the different environments that people live in.

Researchers see that with constant contact with carcinogens, substances that promote the development of cancer, is almost a guarantee that the person will develop cancer at some point in their life. Chemicals, radiation and viruses are the main types of carcinogens. Constant exposure to these carcinogens cause gene abnormalities that can be inherited or induced in a body cell. These cells can also be damaged by outside sources. After many mutations from these carcinogens, it is thought that mutations will occur and will produce a malignant cell that will copy itself into many cancerous cells. Viruses are the cause of about 15% of all cancers. The virus is able to invade cells and cause them to synthesize new viral particles; viruses carry oncogenes that can 6. Excerpted from “Encarta Encyclopedia”, 1997. 3. infect cells and cause malignant transformation. “Chromosomal structure change has been observed in 90% of all human cancer.

Chromosomes are the repository for all genetic information required to build a cell.” 7 Chromosomal changes are now considered as common in malignant cells and used to diagnosis cancer. It is said that about 80% of all the cases of cancer which are discovered each year are from environmental factors. Skin cancer for example can be caused by prolonged periods in the sun. Smoke is said to cause lung cancer. Cancers can be found in people who work with industrial chemicals such as; asbestos, uranium, aniline dyes, arsenic, vinyl chloride, ethylene oxide, benzene, formaldehyde, pesticides and herbicides. 30% of deaths in the United States are smoking related. Dietary factors may account for 40% of deaths from cancer. High fat diets, which are low in fiber can induce colon cancer.

Another promoter of cancer is alcohol. If alcohol and tobacco are used together the risk of cancer to the mouth, larynx, throat, liver and esophagus is greatly enhanced. 8 Even though many different types of cancer are caused by chemicals, radiation, viruses and other sources, it has been found that 20% of cancers are based on inheritance. Some cancers are able to survive in families for generations. Even with such a large number as 20%, only a few cancers are thought to be caused by inheritance. The two 7. R. Grant Steen, “A Conspiracy of Cells” Plenum Press, 1993, page 5. 8. Mark Renneker, “Cancer”, Chelsea House, 1990, pg. 34. 4. major cancers thought to be Inherited are breast cancer and colon cancer. There is no rhyme or reason why these diseases run through some families but not others.

Hopefully, someday, with our scientific advancements we will be able to save many lives. Even scarier than generations of families dying from the same horrible disease, is the way in which cancer spreads through the human body. Some cancers will grow and develop in one part of the body and will never really become dangerous as long as they are detected and removed. The more dangerous cancer cells are the tumors that travel through the body and replace healthy cells with the tainted, fast growing cancer cells. “Normal tissue will be covered and will have cancerous cells running through it, each cell which is now potentially capable of forming a new tumor even if the original tumor mass is surgically removed.9 It seems that these malignant tumors are almost unstoppable. They grow and reproduce at an astonishing rate. Even though they do this very quickly, some cancers follow a very predictable pattern. For example, breast and prostrate cancers usually infect bone and melanomas. Kidney cancer is much the same and usually spreads to the lungs.

Although we are aware of these trends, scientist are still unable to stop this infectious disease. 9. R. Grant Steen, “Aconspiracy of Cells”, Plenum Press, 1993, pg.93. 5. Five of the major cancers that have become the most predominate of all the cancers are the ones that affect blood forming tissues; lungs, skin, breasts, colon and rectum. These are the standouts and the most deadly of all the cancers. The type of cancer that effect blood forming tissues are leukemias. Leukemia means white blood. Leukemia causes the body to produce an abnormal number of immature white blood cells. This makes the body susceptible to infection. Leukemia makes up only 3% of all cancers, but what makes this disease so deadly is who it affects. Children are the most at risk for this disease.

10 We live in a very warm and sunny climate, because of this skin cancer is very prevalent. There are two types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. These types of cancers are both very dangerous cancers. They are found in all areas of the body which are exposed to the sun. The areas of the body which are most affected are the hands, face and ears. As long as these diseases are found in the early stages, there is good prognosis for complete cure. Melanomas are more dangerous because they metastasize much more quickly than normal cancer cells and can spread throughout the body. 10. Steven A. Rosenberg, “The Transformed Cells”, G.P. Putnams Sons, 1992. Pg.57. 6. Lung cancer is one of the most deadly cancers and is extremely hard to diagnosis. People are unable to detect the disease within them because the symptoms are not exposed until its final stages. The symptoms are a cough, spetum streaked with blood, chest pain, repeated attacks of pneumonia or bronchitis.

The five year survival rate is only 14% overall. This cancer takes the greatest amounts of lives. The cancer that plagues one out of every ten women is breast cancer. Women as they become older, at about the age of 50, become more susceptible to this form of cancer. Through studies, we have found that over weight women with high fat diets are much more susceptible. Doctors highly recommend self examinations and mammograms to help women protect themselves from this disease. Breast cancer is one of the easiest cancers to be treated if detected at an early stage. 11 The second most common of all cancers is colon and rectal cancer. 70% of all cancers found in large intestines are found in the colon and the other 30% are found in the rectum. Symptoms are constipation, diarrhea, bloody stools and a change in bowel habits. This cancer can also be successfully treated if found in its earliest stages.

11. American Cancer Society, “The American Cancer Society Cancer Book”, Doubleday, 1986, pg.24. 7. There are several different types of cancer treatments. Surgery is the most effective and the most used. About 50% of patients are also treated with radiation. Surgery is often used if the tumor is localized. If the surgeon can remove the entire cancer, the patient may be completely cured. Even if the cancer has metastasized, surgery can often stop the disease from spreading any further.12 Radiation is a very good attempt to stop this invasive disease. About 50% of all people who have cancer receive radiation therapy. The way in which the cancer is attacked is by damaging the cancer cells by covering them with radiation. The treatment is very effective, except that the healthy cells around the tumor are also damaged. The treatments must be timed for maximum effect because the healthy cells need time to repair.

Chemotherapy is the next most effective treatment after radiation. It is used after surgery and is very effective. Chemotherapy is about 50 drugs which are administered to stop the growth of the cancer or just delay the growth. The drugs often have many very severe side effects. They have a tendency to cause temporary hair loss, vomiting and nausea. Chemotherapy like radiation, damages healthy cells as well as the cancerous cells but is more effective than the radiation when the cancer has spread throughout the body.

Today there are more new drugs which help with the side effects of chemotherapy.13 12. Excerpted from “Comptons Interactive Encyclopedia” 1994. 13. American Cancer Society , “American Cancer Society Cancer Book”, Doubleday, 1986, pg.104. 8. Cancer today is treated by the clinician and the scientist. ” The doctors cannot expect to increase the success of their treatment of cancer without ongoing input from basic scientists concerned with cancer research.” 14 Both the doctors and scientists must become more tolerant of each other and the science of biology must come together with the art of medicine to help find a real cure for this disease. 14. R. Grant Steen, “The Conspiracy of Cells”, Plenum Press, 1993, pg. 383.

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