Cancer is a deadly disease which occurs when cellular changes cause cells uncontrolled division and growth. Rapid cell growth is driven by cancer, while others cause cells to grow and divide slower. Visible growth called tumors is caused by some Cancer.
Most of the body’s cell has fixed lifespan and functions. Cell death is a part of the natural process. A cell receives an instruction to die to be replaced by a new cell that functions better. According to health experts, cancerous cells lack the components that instruct them to stop dividing and die. So they build up in the body using oxygen and nutrients that nourish other cells. They can form tumors, impair the immune system, and causes changes that help to function the body normally.
Cancer can be many types like thyroid, pancreatic, lymphoma, melanoma, liver, leukemia, kidney, endometrial, rectal, colon, bladder. Other types are less common. National Cancer Institute says there are 100 types of cancers.
Symptoms of cancers are –
- Weight changes.
- Under the skin feeling of lump or thickening.
- Skin changes.
- Persistent cough or trouble breathing
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent indigestion or discomfort after eating, unexplained muscle or joint pain, unexplained fevers or night sweats
- Unexplained bleeding or bruising
Cancer cells invading immune system –
Cancer cells are cells that multiply unchecked and function incorrectly. The regular immune system clears cells that are faulty, dead, or dying. Macrophages, a type of WBC, are primarily responsible for consuming and destroying foreign invaders and errant cells. Macrophages carry out their task with much efficiency; some cancer cells manage to evade them. But the question here is how do cancer cells manage to escape the immune system. They may appear in one area, then spread via the lymph nodes.
Higher level of CD47, a transmembrane protein aggressive cancer cells express on their cell surface. On the surface of Macrophages, CD47 binds to a protein called SIRPalpha, reducing their ability to attack and kill the cancer cells. Many animal studies have shown that treatment with an anti-CD47 antibody significantly increases macrophages’ ability to kill cancer cells. The treatment led to a cure in the mouse module of cancer.
There is a cell surface protein called primary histocompatibility complex class 1 (MHC class 1). Adaptive immunity forms the basis of immunological memory. Once the immune system has responded to a specific pathogen, it can mount a swift and thorough response if it meets the same intruder again. MHC class 1 is an integral part of this wing of the immune system.
On the surface of most cells, MHC class 1 is found. They take internal cellular proteins portions and, on the cell surface, display them. And all these provide a snapshot of the cell’s health. T cells destroy cell’s protein flags if they are abnormal. This interaction between MHC class 1 and T cells detail analysis is available, but how macrophages are involved is not much research.
A study found out that on the surface of macrophages, to a part of MHC class 1, a protein LILRB1 binds on the surface of cancer cells. Once the binding happens, it prevents the macrophages from consuming and killing the cell.
Role of genes in cancer –
Many studies have proved genetic factors that can cause cancer. The genetic code of a person tells cells when to divide and expire. Changes in genes can cause faulty instruction. Genes influence cells production of proteins, and proteins carry instruction for cellular growth and division.
Hundreds of cancer-linked genes play a role in developing the disease. Tumor suppressor genes prevent cell growth, preventing cancerous cells from spreading. Mutations in these genes allow the tumor to flourish unchecked. Researchers have found that more than 100 mutated tumor suppressor genes in mice can stop the immune system from finding and destroying malignant cells. The genes linked to cancer, when mutated, trigger mechanisms that prevent the immune system from removing tumors.
The tumors can escape the body’s defense system is not new. In the last few decades, a lot of advancement has happened in cancer treatment. Scientists found out that some tumors produce proteins that switch off immune cells, which attack cancerous cells. Pharmaceutical companies have dubbed checkpoint inhibitors, developed medicines that block proteins and activate the immune system. Checkpoint inhibitors are now big sellers, but they are not up to the mark therapy in cancer treatment, which some scientists hoped.
Treatments for Cancer –
Cancer treatments are usually based on types of cancer, stage of cancer, and the patient’s overall health. Chemotherapy with medication kills cancerous cells that target rapidly dividing cells. The medicines kill tumors, but side effects are severe. Hormone Therapy is another way of treating cancer that involves taking medications that change the working of certain hormones or interfere with the body’s ability to produce them. Cancer hormones play a significant role in the prostate and breast, which is the best approach.
In immunotherapy, the immune system is boosted by medications and other treatments that help fight cancerous cells. Checkpoint inhibitors and adoptive cell transfer are two examples of this treatment. Precision medicine is one of the new developing approaches and involves genetic testing to determine the best treatment for a patient. Researches still need to be done to find out if it is suitable for all types of cancer.
Another therapy that is widely used is radiation therapy which uses high-dose radiation to kill cancerous cells. With blood-related cancer, stem cell transplants are effective. It involves removing cells that chemotherapy or radiation has destroyed. The cells are strengthened by lab technicians and put back in the body. When a person has a developed a cancerous tumor, surgery is the best option.
Cancer causes cells to divide uncontrollably and prevents them from dying at a natural point in their life. Genetic factors and lifestyle choices can cause the disease. The most common type of cancer is skin and breast cancer in the US. Lung cancer causes maximum death related to cancer.
Treatments are constantly improving, and lots of researchers are happening. According to leading doctors and health experts, if the cancer is detected early, then with proper treatment, people can get fully cured. Many people have been benefited from stem cell transplantation and precision medicine. The diagnosis and death caused by cancer are reducing yearly.