Learning Center Articles

Education is essential : Cancer

  • Education is essential
    • Goals of public education
      • Motivate people to recognize and modify behaviors that may negatively affect health
      • Encourage awareness of and participation in health-promoting behaviors
    • What you would tell the patient about cancer
      • Cell proliferation, or growth, originates in the stem cell and begins when the stem cell enters the cell cycle. Normally, cells differentiate and become mature, functioning cells of a certain kind of tissue.  There is an equilibrium between cell proliferation and cell degeneration.  In cancer, cells respond differently than normal cells to the intracellular signals that regulate the state of dynamic equilibrium. Cells respond differently and divide indiscriminately and haphazardly.  When they produce more than 2 cells at the time of mitosis, there is continuous growth of a tumor mass, called the pyramid effect.
      • Cell differentiation is normally a stable, orderly process that progresses from a state of immaturity to a state of maturity. Cancer results in malfunction in that process.
      • Cancer involves the malfunction of genes that control differentiation and proliferation.
    • Is cancer genetically linked?
      • A common misbelief is that the development of cancer is a rapid, haphazard event. However, cancer is usually an orderly process comprising several stages and occurring over a period of time.
      • The first stage, initiation, is a mutation in the cell’s genetic structure.
      • Gene mutations can occur in two different ways: inherited from a parent (passed from one generation to the next) or acquired during a person’s lifetime.
      • About 5% to 10% of all cancers or the predisposition to the cancers are inherited from one’s parents. These genetic alterations lead to a very high risk of developing a specific type of cancer.
      • However, most cancers do not result from inherited genes but are acquired from damage to genes occurring during one’s lifetime. An acquired mutation is passed on to all cells that develop from that single cell.
      • The damaged cell may die or repair itself. However, if cell death or repair does not occur before cell division, the cell will replicate into daughter cells, each with the same genetic alteration.
    • Role of UV light
    • UV radiation is considered a carcinogen.
    • Carcinogens may be chemical, radiation, or viral.
    • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation has long been associated with melanoma and squamous and basal cell carcinoma of the skin.
    • Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer among whites in the United States. Of great concern is the increase in the incidence of melanoma. Although the cause of melanoma is probably multifactorial, UV radiation secondary to sunlight exposure is linked to the development of melanoma.