Cancer cells have unique behaviors compared to that of normal cells due to their abnormal molecular and physical qualities. Discovering more about how cancer cells develop and function has interested me to learn about a specific cancer that I have had a personal run-in with in the past known as colon cancer. Through research, I have discovered shocking facts that has led me to be more conscious and attentive to my habits and lifestyle. Ultimately, researching deeper into different, specific types of illnesses could initiate more self-awareness and healthy habits earlier in life, resulting in lower chances of being diagnosed.
As we have learned in class, cancer is the unchecked growth of abnormal cells that can form into tumors. Normal cells can undergo a process called “transformation” in which their genotype and phenotype are altered, making them divide indefinitely and act like cancer cells. These cells are unique because they do not respond to signals that regulates the growth, division, and death of a normal cell. Ultimately, cancer cells grow into a mass of cells called tumors and can metastasize to different locations in the body and form colonies. There are various types of cancer depending on where the mutated cells originated from in the body.
Colon cancer, or otherwise known as Colorectal cancer, forms and originates from the inner wall of the large intestine or rectum, and is the third leading cause of death in men and women in the U.S. Most colorectal cancers develop from colon polyps, or mass of cells that are usually harmless but can become fatal if it transforms into cancer. The symptoms can vary according to where the tumor is located in the large intestine. There may fatigue, shortness of breath, constipation, abdominal pain, etc. Its treatment can be through surgery alone if found in its earlier stages, and with chemotherapy if found in its later stages.
The stages of cancer can be separated with the “number staging system” and usually uses the TNM (Tumor, Node, Metastasis) staging system within it. Most cancers have 4 stages, the 1st usually means the cancer is small and contained within its originating organ, while the 4th stage means the cancer has spread to other neighboring organs and has grown considerably in size as well. When a cancer is in its 4th stage, it is usually most dangerous and harmful to its host body.
The most perilous and frightening aspect of colon cancer is that the human body shows no symptoms until its last stages. The only way to detect colon cancer in its earlier stages is through specific screening tests such as colonoscopy. Otherwise, it can build and fester in the body for more than a decade before showing any signs, but by then, the cancer has already become fatal and difficult to treat. This clearly portrays how vulnerable and unpredictable the human body is, hopefully prompting not only me, but others as well to consider what can be done to prevent such illnesses to mature in our bodies.