In 2018, it was documented that cancer was the second leading cause of death worldwide. Cancer was responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018 and globally, about 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer. This disease is so deadly because it can grow into and damage blood vessels in your body, possibly causing bleeding. This bleeding is bad because if you have a low platelet count this can be especially hard to cure on top of your diagnosis. Platelets help clot the blood in our bodies, if you do not have enough platelets you can have excessive bleeding which is never good. Now the question is what is causing the cells in our bodies to make it impossible for a cure to this deadly disease?
First off mutations may be a single nucleotide change or a deletion or duplication of a DNA sequence. A change in these genetic sequences can further lead to the production of a mutant protein. This is a product of a protein encoded by a gene with a mutation. Cancer cells accumulate and appear by these mutations because they inhibit normal controls in the system. These controls include cell cycle arrest which is a stopping point in the cell cycle where it is no longer involved in the processes surrounding duplication and division as well as programmed cell death. As masses of cancerous cells grow it can further lead to developing a tumor also known as oncogenes. Certain genes play a key role in our bodies and the development of cancer within us. The tumor suppressor genes in our bodies regulates the cell during cell division and replication if the cell does happen to grow uncontrollably, resulting in cancer. Whereas stability genes prevents the accumulation of mutations, proper cell cycle checkpoints and DNA repair pathways.
Cancer grows uncontrollably, why is that you may ask? Cancer cells do not respond to signals that regulate cell growth and division, these cells grow unchecked therefore producing more dangerous cancer cells. They do this by replicating cells also known as daughter cells that keep replicating each other. When cells act “normal” they know which other cells to join with and stick to. They also know when to stop replicating each other and die.
I have a personal experience in my life right now relating to cancer and I think that is what drove me into diving deeper into what cancer really is. My grandpa has had cancer three times now and is battling for his fourth time with leukemia. I included the topic of having platelets above because he has hardly any left in his blood and it is causing him to have a difficult time. I am realizing that many people who have cancer are our elders, but why is that the case? Cancer increases with age because we accumulate more and more mutations over time allowing the cells to spread and duplicate. Now the big question is, is there any cure? No there is no cure yet but there are cancer treatments including Pharmacogenetics, Targeted Activators and Blocking Receptors. Although we have all these treatments in our hands, the closest thing we have to killing these cells off naturally is apoptosis, and apoptosis is the process of programmed cell death, once the cell dies it makes proteases and enzymes that degrade its components. Unfortunately the replication ensures that new cells are made to take their place causing this process to repeat.