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The Use Of Telomerase In Diagnosis, Prognosis, And Treatment Of Cancer: With A Special Look At Breast Cancer

2613 words - 10 pages

Abstract:Cancer is a common word in the health field. It is important to understand that cancer is due to gene mutations and often involves uncontrolled cell growth. Telomeres are base pair sequences found at the end of chromosomes and are known to shorten after subsequent cell divisions. Telomerase is an enzyme able to add to telomeres, thus increasing their lengths. Telomerase is found naturally in specific cells, but is also found commonly in cancer. Telomerase being found in cancer provides a means by which cancer can be better studied. Because not all cancers are exactly alike, breast cancer is looked at specifically and it has been found that telomerase provides a means by which diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment can all be aided by use of telomerase. Research has provided a hope at the fight of breast cancer by using knowledge of telomerase, but this research has lead to other unknowns in telomerase. The conclusion, though, is that the study of telomerase is a very worthwhile and promising area of research.Discussion:In order to fully understand the means by which cancer cells age, it is vital to first identify the basics of what is meant by the term cancer, how cancer develops, and why it develops. Cancer, in general, refers to uncontrolled cell growth in the body. This uncontrolled growth often leads to spreading of those cells (American Cancer Society 2006). The development of this cell growth is due to mutations within the genetic code of the cell. A mutation in the genetic code is simply a change in the sequence of base pairs in the copy of DNA from the original DNA. Mutations are not always bad, and are a significant source for genetic variation, but the combination of one or more mutations can lead to irregular uncontrolled cell growth. This uncontrolled cell growth often occurs because of the following mutations of genes: those genes that help control the rate at which cells divide, or genes that control the death of flawed cells. A person may be predisposed to developing cancer by inheriting genes that are more likely to cause cancer, may be exposed to environmental factors known to cause caner, or possibly a combination of both. It is, however, these mutations within the genetic code of an individual that lead to the development of cancer cells (American Cancer Society 2006).Oftentimes these mutated cells begin to grow at a much accelerated rate due to mutated genes called oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. Oncogenes are mutated varieties of proto-oncogenes, which are genes that monitor cell growth and division. The mutation causes cells to grow and divide at an accelerated rate. Tumor suppressor genes are genes that help monitor this cell growth, which includes controlling the rate at which they divide and the proper time for the cell to die (American Cancer Society).Regular somatic cells in the body go through replication and eventually die in a planned manner. This timed death is called apoptosis. These cells can only...

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