Hallmarks of Cancer Part 1
What is Cancer?
Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of cells in the body that most people know as a tumor. A tumor does not necessarily mean cancer, however. A tumor is just a growth in the body which can be as simple as a fibroid, or cyst which is just a closed pocket of tissue with fluid or pus underneath. So how do scientists and doctors define cancer? They define cancer by the hallmarks of cancer. Here, in this post, we will give you a list of the Hallmarks and give as simple an explanation for each part of that Hallmark. This post’s length and complexity will give you an idea of why there is no “cure” that Big Pharma, or the government is hiding from the public. Remember, these hallmarks are the same for every type, or sub-type, of cancer, but the way each cancer achieves these hallmarks is extremely different. One type of cancer can be promoted by one signal, while another will die from that signal.
- Sustaining Proliferative Signaling
- Somatic Mutations Activate Additional Downstream Pathways
- WOW, that is a mouth full. Let’s break that down nice and easy for everyone to understand. Somatic cells simply mean cells of the body such as bone, brain, and skin cells. The other type of cells is sex, or germ, cells (sperm and eggs) that are used to make babies. Downstream pathways can be thought of the wiring that keeps the cells working in the correct way. They send signals to other parts of the cell to keep them functioning properly. This wiring can be thought of as the brake line to your car, if you don’t have working brake lines, your car doesn’t stop and you crash! This cut in the brake line of the cell is what scientists call a mutation. If you have too many cuts in the cell’s brake line, your cells don’t stop dividing and become cancer. This type of cut is referred to as a mutation in a TUMOR SUPPRESSOR GENE. The opposite can also be true. Say your gas pedal gets stuck, eventually your brakes will give out. This is called a mutation in an ONCOGENE.
- Disruptions of Negative-Feedback Mechanisms that Attenuate Proliferative Signaling
- Wow, another mouthful! Don’t let that deter you! All this complicated sentence means is the checks and balances of the cell are messed up. Think about it like the government. Let’s say congress passes a law that is discriminatory. The Justice system will hear a case and rule that is illegal. This is a checks and balance of the government. In the cell, for every on switch, there is an off switch. When the off switch gets broken, the on switch keeps telling the cell to grow and divide without control. A good example of this is a thermostat will tell the heater to work until it hits certain temperature. When it hits a certain temperature, it will shut off the heater. This is negative feedback
- Excessive Proliferative Signaling Can Trigger Cell Senescence
- The same rewiring we talked about above that makes the cell go haywire and divide into many, many cells can cause the cells to go into what is called Senescence. This is when the cell doesn’t divide or grow! Wait, didn’t we just say that the bad wiring does the opposite!?! Yes, we did. This is part of the problem with trying to treat and cure cancer. Some miss-wiring in certain cancer types cause the cells to grow uncontrollably, and the same miss-wiring in others cause them to stop growing. In this Senescent state, the cells become hard to kill with drugs, chemotherapy, and radiation. They can be thought of as the Superman of cells. They are virtually immortal and indestructible.
- Evading Growth Suppressors
- There are signals from outside the cell and inside the cell that tell it to stop growing and dividing. Think back to our example of the car and its brakes. For the car to stop, the car needs to get a “signal” from the driver pushing on the pedal to stop. It also needs to deliver that “signal” from the pedal to the brakes. The cell works in a very similar way to this, but it receives not just one “signal” to stop or go. It receives hundreds, or thousands, and each one has to process those in order to work properly. In cancer, the signals telling the cell to stop, don’t work. This can be caused by receiving the wrong signals (gas pedal signals outnumber the brakes signals). It can also be caused by the brake lines being cut (Remember the brake line being but is called mutations in Tumor Suppressor Genes/Proteins).
- Mechanisms of Contact Inhibition and Its Evasion
- Cells need contact with their foundation and their neighbors to stay alive, grow, and divide into new cells. Think of cells like a block of row homes in a city. These row houses have a foundation on which they are built, they have contacts with their neighbor houses, and they are close to the street for access in and out of the house. The foundation of cells is called a basement membrane. The neighboring cells are the fellow houses on the block, and the street can be the thought of as the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients (a.k.a. cell food). Cells need the constant contact with their neighbors and the foundation to stay alive. If they rewire themselves to stay alive without these contact, then they can go into the blood stream and go to other parts of the body. This is called METSATSIS. The cell tricks itself into thinking it is still in its neighborhood by rewiring itself. It convinced itself that it is still neatly in its neighborhood. This allows the cell to get up and move to another neighborhood where it will divide and grow. This is what happens when cancer metastasizes. This is one of the worst things that can happen in a cancer patient because the cancer spread will eventually cause death.