How Cancer Effects The Cells, The Body, And Their Offspring

1020 words - 4 pages


Have you ever wondered how cancer forms? Well, cancer starts when a cell's DNA becomes

altered. When the DNA is altered, the cells reproduce without restriction and do not die like a

normal cell. These extra cells form a mass of tissue that is a tumor. Cancer forms in the genes of

our cells, and is able to be carried in the offspring of the person with cancer.

The cells are the basic units of life. Cells contain DNA that make up genes. Genes are

instructions for the cells to make certain proteins. These proteins are then used as a blueprint for

the function and structure of the organism. When the DNA is mutated, it alters the normal growth

of the cells. This results in the cells not dying as they normally would, and a tumor may form;

these tumors are commonly called "cancer" (www.cancer.gov).

A tumor can be benign, which means it is not cancerous, or it can be malignant, which is

cancerous. The tumor is comprised of abnormal cells. These abnormal cells then take over the

organ that they begin in and are also named after it. For example, if a single cell becomes

abnormal in the liver, and then forms a cancerous tumor, it would be malignant, and would be

called liver cancer. Although, not all cancers form tumors. Also, abnormal cells can spread to

other areas of the body besides where they originally started (www.cancer.gov).

The gene for some cancers can be passed down to their offspring.These genes may

or may not produce cancer. The gene has to be activated and turned on. The mechanism for

turning on a cancerous gene is not well understood. The mechanism may vary from person to

person (www.cancer.org).

More than 4,000 diseases come from altered genes inherited from one's mother or father

(www.cancer.gov). If a mother and father both carry one altered gene, and one normal gene,

there is a possibility that the altered gene will be stronger, and will be more prominent in the

offspring. The parents may both be disease-free themselves, but they might still carry an affected

gene. If there are four children, each one of them have a 25% chance of developing the disorder,

or not carrying the disease at all. Although, there is a 50% chance that the children will develop

an affected gene, and a normal gene, and being a disease carrier like their parents. Scientists

looking to find the start of disease-related genes start by looking at many past relatives, or

"disease families", that have developed the illness over several generations. Although all cancer

is genetic, only about five or ten percent is actually inherited (www.cancer.gov).

"Most cancers actually start from random mutations that develop in the cells during one's

lifetime" (www.cancer.gov). Mutations can develop as a mistake when cells are going through

cell division. They can also develop in response to radiation or chemicals in the...

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