The Many Faces of Cancer

Cancer: What You need to Know

Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death among African Americans. The pain and suffering inflicted upon the patient and caregivers are almost unbearable. Many people understandably try to avoid having anything to do with Cancer.  Knowing more about Cancer and the ways people have learned to Cope is tremendously important to everyone involved.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is the nation’s leader in Cancer Research. They are an untapped resource of information about Cancer. Jay Harold has known about the NCI for over 20 years and strongly suggests that you take advantage of this publicly funded resource.

Jay Harold became truly aware of Cancer when he started working in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, TX.  The Texas Medical Center (TMC) is the largest Medical Center in the world with one of the highest densities of clinical facilities for patient care, basic science, and translational research. Jay Harold gained valuable experience working at several hospitals in the TMC, including what is now Memorial- Hermann Healthcare System and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

I’ve been a Caregiver!

When preparing chemotherapy for patients, Jay Harold was aware of the Side Effects of these medications.  The benefits were determined to outweigh the potential harm done to the patient. Jay Harold has a post on “Side Effects” of medications and discusses this topic in some detail.  You knew that patients and caregivers were suffering, and everything was done to reduce the emotional and physical pain.  Everything changes when that patient is your Mama!

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Jay Harold wants you to know that he went through all the emotional and physical trauma of being a deeply involved caregiver. While his Mama was getting treatment for Stage 4 Colon -Rectal Cancer, another loved one was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer.  Jay Harold wrote the first in a series of posts about cancer named “What is Cancer.”  That post starts the review of basic Cancer information needed to understand this terrible disease. This post is the second in the series about Cancer.  Jay Harold presents this post with love for anyone struggling with Cancer.

Differences between Cancer Cells and Normal Cells

Cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases. In all types of cancer, some of the body’s cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place. Cancer cells differ from normal cells in many ways that

When Coping with Cancer; counseling is often needed.

Learning that a someone has Cancer is a traumatic event. Counseling is often needed.

allow them to grow out of control and become invasive. One important difference is that cancer cells are less specialized than normal cells. That is, whereas normal cells mature into very distinct cell types with specific functions, cancer cells do not. The lack of maturity of cancer cells is one reason that, unlike normal cells, cancer cells continue to divide without stopping.

In addition, cancer cells can ignore signals that normally tell cells to stop dividing.  Cancer cells also ignore signals that begin a process known as programmed cell death, or apoptosis, which the body uses to get rid of unneeded cells.

Cancer cells may be able to influence the normal cells, molecules, and blood vessels that surround and feed a tumor—an area known as the microenvironment. For instance, cancer cells can induce nearby normal cells to form blood vessels that supply tumors with oxygen and nutrients, which they need to grow. These blood vessels also remove waste products from tumors.

Cancer cells are also often able to evade the immune system, a network of organs, tissues, and specialized cells that protect the body from infections and other conditions. Although the immune system normally removes damaged or abnormal cells from the body, some cancer cells can “hide” from the immune system.

Tumors can also use the immune system to stay alive and grow. For example, with the help of certain immune system cells that normally prevent a runaway immune response, cancer cells can keep the immune system from killing cancer cells.

Tissue Changes that Are Not Cancer

Not every change in the body’s tissues is cancer. Some tissue changes may develop into cancer if they are not treated, however. Here are some examples of tissue changes that are not cancer but, in some cases, are monitored:

A wide range of emotions are found in Cancer patients.

Fear, Denial, and Anger are normal feelings found in Cancer patients.

Hyperplasia occurs when cells within a tissue divide faster than normal and extra cells build up or proliferate. However, the cells and the way the tissue is organized look normal under a microscope. Hyperplasia can be caused by several factors or conditions, including chronic irritation.

Dysplasia is a more serious condition than hyperplasia. In dysplasia, there is also a buildup of extra cells. But the cells look abnormal,  and there are changes in how the tissue is organized. In general, the more abnormal the cells and tissue look, the greater the chance that cancer will form.

Some types of dysplasia may need to be monitored or treated. An example of dysplasia is an abnormal mole (called a dysplastic nevus) that forms on the skin. A dysplastic nevus can turn into melanoma although most do not.

A more serious condition is carcinoma in situ. Although it is sometimes called cancer, carcinoma in situ is not cancer because the abnormal cells do not spread beyond the original tissue. That is, they do not invade nearby tissue the way that cancer cells do. But, because some carcinomas in situ may become cancer,  they are usually treated.

Drawing of Normal to Cancer Tissue of four panels showing how normal cells may become cancer cells. The first panel shows normal cells. The second and third panels show abnormal cell changes called hyperplasia and dysplasia. The fourth panel shows cancer cells.
Normal cells may become cancer cells. Before cancer cells form in tissues of the body, the cells go through abnormal changes called hyperplasia and dysplasia. In hyperplasia, there is an increase in the number of cells in an organ or tissue that appear normal under a microscope. In dysplasia, the cells look abnormal under a microscope but are not cancer. Hyperplasia and dysplasia may or may not become cancer.

Jay Harold will continue to post articles about Cancer and other topics to improve your Health and Wealth.  Jay Harold strives to provide relevant and practical knowledge for your life.  Become a part of the family and let’s get to a better way of living together.

Click this link to get free Health and Wealth information to improve  your life. Play the free  “Slow Roll Through Civil Rights” Game found on the Jay Harold website. Enjoyed this post? Share it and read more here.

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