The development of cancer is no longer a mystery to humanity. During the last decade, researchers have made considerable breakthroughs in understanding the mechanisms of cancer at a molecular level. They have made robust discoveries that form the basis for preventing and treating various types of cancers. The term cancer refers to more than 100 kinds of malignancies because any tissue in the human body can experience malignancies if cells multiply uncontrollably. Although people experience different types of cancer, the mechanism for their development is similar because of cell signaling that causes the disease; hence, cancers can potentially spread in the entire body through genetic mutation.
Cell signaling is the primary mechanism that leads to cancer in the human body. The mechanisms that underlie the formation of cancer include genetic defects that might cause cells in the body to spawn out of control (Ishaq et al. 1517). Researchers have revealed genetic defects existing in tumors as a potential for targeted cancer treatment. Primarily, cells in the human body require internal and external signals to divide efficiently and perform their roles in the body. The signals regulate their growth, movement, secretion, life, and death. Various proteins are responsible for the signaling process, and in case the pathways misbehave or exhibit an error, the cells can divide uncontrollably, causing cancer. Therefore, errors in cell signaling are the cause of the disease through the uncontrolled division of cells.
Although the uncontrolled division of cells might occur in a particular organ or part of the body, the cancer cells eventually spread throughout the body. Cancer cells migrate from the primary tumor to surrounding tissues, and eventually to other organs through metastasis. The process entails a number of sequential and interrelated steps, including the development of the cancer cells through erroneous division, “detaching of cancer cells from the original tumor, intravasation into the lymphatic and circulatory systems, evasion of immune attack, extravasating at distant capillary beds, and invade and proliferate in distant organs” (Seyfried and Huysentruyt 43). For example, in the case of HPV as the primary cause of cervical cancer, the abnormal cells move through the basal lamina to connecting tissues. The process allows cancer cells to migrate to other parts of the body.
Cancer has genetic implications, suggesting that some genes are a primary cause of the condition. Some cancers are caused by the production of genes, such as E6 and E7 (for HPV), which hinders the production of genes that control the division of cells in the human body and increases the risk of cancer. The failure to produce p53 and Rb due to E6 and E7 plays a role in the development of cancer. Generally, cancer develops when the body cannot optimally produce the genetic defense against an uncontrollable division of cells in a particular organ.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death today. The past few decades have witnessed an increase in the number of studies focused on the disease in an attempt to control, prevent, and treat it to reduce the ever-growing mortality rate. Therefore, the most effective step in controlling the condition is to understand the mechanism through which cells multiply uncontrollably, and hence develop some artificial interventions to stop the division and metastasis. Critical research is necessary to reduce cancer prevalence and mortality.
Ishaq, Musarat, Margaret Evans, and Kostya Ostrikov. “Effect of Atmospheric Gas Plasmas on Cancer Cell Signaling.” International Journal of Cancer, vol. 134, no.7, 2014, pp. 1517-1528.
Seyfried, Thomas, et al. “On the Origin Of Cancer Metastasis.” Critical Reviews in Oncogenesis, vol. 18, no.1-2, 2013, 43-49