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Sci ES 5 What is Cancer 15/4/18

CANCER
What is it, what causes it, and what can we do about
it?

Overview
1. Defining cancer
2. What causes cancer
3. What are the possible treatment options
4. What is being done to “find a cure”?

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Sci ES 5 What is Cancer 15/4/18

What is cancer?
■ Cancer is the generic term given to any disease which is
caused by abnormal cell division, where cells are going and
dividing “out of control” (CCS, 2018, ASCO, 2015)

■ This out of control cell division causes a “lump”, which is


basically a tumor

How does this happen?!?

Before we can understand where the cell grows out of control,


we need to understand how the cell replicates! This process is
called the cell cycle

https://www.wisc-online.com/learn/natural-science/life-
science/bio204/cell-division

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Sci ES 5 What is Cancer 15/4/18

Cell Cycle

Stages of cell cycle


1. G1: 1st growth phase
2. S: Genetic information is copied
3. G2: 2nd growth phase
4. M: mitosis and cytokinesis (stage
cells actually divide)

G1, S and G2

G1: 1st major growth, the cell


doubles in size (so that when it splits, both
daughter cells are the size of a normal cell), all
organelles (except genetic info) is
duplicated

S: DNA synthesis occurs, all genetic


information is duplicated. At the
end, the cell has 46 chromosomes

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Sci ES 5 What is Cancer 15/4/18

G1, S and G2

G2: 2nd growth stage. The cell’s


“gene-checker” goes through the
duplicated DNA (as it has not condensed
yet). Final checks are done to prepare
for mitosis

Mitosis
Mitosis itself has 5 key steps, all in
the intent, at the end, of making
two identical daughter cells

1) Prophase (1/2 of mitosis is just this


phase alone!)
■ Nuclear membrane disappears
■ Centrosome and mitotic spindle form
(connect to chromosomes, pull the
chromosomes to opposite ends of cell)
■ Replicated chromosome held by
centromere

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Sci ES 5 What is Cancer 15/4/18

Mitosis
Mitosis itself has 5 key steps, all
in the intent, at the end, of
making two identical daughter
cells

2) Metaphase
■ Chromosomes attached to mitotic
spindle by centromere
■ Chromosomes align at centre of
the cell (metaphase plate)

Mitosis
Mitosis itself has 5 key steps, all
in the intent, at the end, of
making two identical daughter
cells

3) Anaphase (shortest phase)


■ Chromosomes pulled apart and
are brought to opposite poles of
the cells

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Sci ES 5 What is Cancer 15/4/18

Mitosis
Mitosis itself has 5 key steps, all
in the intent, at the end, of
making two identical daughter
cells

4) Telophase
■ Nuclear membrane re-forms
■ Chromosomes de-condense
■ Mitotic spindle disappears

Mitosis
Mitosis itself has 5 key steps, all
in the intent, at the end, of
making two identical daughter
cells

5) Cytokinesis
■ Cleavage of cell into two parts
occurs at metaphase plate
■ Form two daughter cells, which is
identical to parent

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Sci ES 5 What is Cancer 15/4/18

So what causes cancer?


■ Cancer can be caused by a breakdown in any of the checks
during G1, S, G2 or Mitosis!
– Not only does cell growth get out of hand, but the checks
for cell death as well!
■ This happens because gene mutations have damaged the
genetic information in the cell, disrupting the normal checks

= BAD! 

So what causes cancer?


■ Cancer cells
– Divide out of control
– Ignore signals to stop growing/signals to die
– Avoid WBC
– Don’t clump together like normal cells
– Grow into, and as a result, damage “normal” tissue

■ Result: Cells that grow out of control, and don’t die like they
supposed to!

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Sci ES 5 What is Cancer 15/4/18

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Sci ES 5 What is Cancer 15/4/18

Why is cancer so hard to cure?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2rR77VsF5c

Types of Cancer
■ There are over 100 different types of cancer, but they are all
organized into four main categories
1. Carcinomas: skin and/or tissue that covers an internal
organ
• Skin cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer
2. Sarcomas: tissue that supports and/or connects parts of
the body
• Bone cancer, cancer in fat tissue, cancer in muscle tissue,
3. Leukemias: cancer of the blood
4. Lymphomas: cancer in lymphatic system

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Sci ES 5 What is Cancer 15/4/18

Stages of Cancer
Doctors usually stage cancer by their “severity”
■ Stage 0: carcinoma in situ ; very small number of cancerous cells
which have yet to form a large tumor/invade nearby cells
■ Stage 1: Very small tumor, still in original organ
■ Stage 2-3: Tumor has enlarged and/or cancer cells growing in
nearby tissue to original location
■ Stage 4: Cancer cells have moved and are growing in multiple
locations away from original location (metastatic spread)

Treatment options will differ depending on what stage the cancer


is in

Types of Treatments
■ Surgery: If still in tumor form, will be first step of action to
remove as many of the cancer cells as possible
■ Chemotherapy: use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is
like a “nuke” as it pretty much kills any cell, whether it is cancerous
or not
■ Radiation: use of high energy ray, or x-rays, to kill cancer cells
or reduce tumor growth
■ Immunotherapy: boots/uses body’s immune system to kill
cancer cells

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Works Cited
American Society of Clinical Oncology. (2015, July). What is Cancer?. Retrieved
March 21, 2018, from: http://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/cancer-
basics/what-cancer.

The Cell Cycle, Mitosis and Meiosis. (2017, August 17). Retrieved March 21, 2018,
from https://www2.le.ac.uk/projects/vgec/highereducation/topics/cellcycle-
mitosis-meiosis

What is cancer? - Canadian Cancer Society. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2018, from
http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/what-is-
cancer/?region=on

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