Cancer Characters

This essay has a total of 6002 words and 31 pages.



All living things are made up of cells. They are the smallest things that are capable of
basic life-they take in nutrients when needed, they put out waste and they reproduce.
Cells divide (reproduce) at least once during their life, sometimes dozens of times.
Organisms rely on this, this is how they grow or repair themselves when they are damaged.
A normal body has around 30 trillion cells.

Permanent gene mutations are what cause cells to malfunction. When this happens several
times to the same cell it can become cancerous. This can take many years in some cases. A
cancerous cell reproduces at different rates, but eventually they overcrowd the normal
cells and turn into a tumor.

There are two types of tumors, benign and malignant. A benign tumor does not spread to
other parts of the body, it stays in one place. Benign tumors are not dangerous and do not
need to be removed, but if you would like to have it removed for appearance purposes or if
it is uncomfortable it can be surgically removed very easily. A malignant tumor is a tumor
that can spread to other parts of the body which makes them very dangerous.

There are many different kinds of cancer and they all react differently to different types
of treatments. Cancer cells can break away from a tumor and spread to other parts of the
body. They usually spread through the blood or lymph systems. When this happens it is
called metastasis. It doesn't matter where the cancer spreads to; it is still named after
the part of the body where it started. For example if the cancer started in the breast and
then spread to the lymphatic system it is defined as metastastic breast cancer. A
recurrence is when the cancer returns after someone has had treatments and appeared to be
cancer free.

Cancer can take years to develop so it is usually a few things that contribute to it.
Scientists are not exactly sure what causes cancer but there have been studies that show
that some people are more prone than others to develop it. One million people in the
United States are diagnosed with cancer every year. In the United States 163 out of every
100,000 men develop cancer, and 110 out of every 100,000 women develop it.1 People of all
ages develop cancer but it is more common in people 50 years old or older. Although we are
not quite sure what causes cancer studies have shown that not smoking, eating healthy, and
exercising for 30 minutes every day can lower the risk by sixty percent. Just doing that
could save your life.

There are also things like bad eating habits that account for thirty percent of cancer
deaths in the USA. Eating a lot of red meats or a lot of salt, or saturated fat can be
very dangerous. People with obesity have a much higher risk of developing cancer among
other things. Having more than two alcoholic drinks a day can also increase the risk.

But one of the biggest contributors is tobacco. People that smoke cigars, cigarettes, or
chew increase their risk. If a non smoker lived with a smoker the non smoker's chances
would increase by thirty percent. Second hand smoke is very dangerous. Starting to smoke
when young also increases the chance. Cancer caused by tobacco can appear in different
places in the body, it can appear in the lungs, esophagus, respiratory tract, bladder and
pancreas. Eating healthy and exercising are very important, they are a big part of
preventing cancer.

Heredity also plays a role. Some gene mutations are inherited. There are tests to
determine whether or not a person has these. If any mutated genes are found extra measures
are taken to prevent cancer. Radiation has been linked to cancer, especially skin cancer.

People with early warning signs should contact their physician immediately. The physician
will check the patient's medical history and then decide what examinations will be needed.
They may choose to perform a biopsy in which a sample of the infected skin is sent to a
lab to be analyzed.

We still have a lot to learn about cancer, but we have already come a long way. Today
sixty percent of people that get diagnosed live ay least five years; 50 years ago there
was hardly any chance for survival at all, because we knew nothing about the disease. The
NCI (National Cancer Institute) estimates that 8 million people are living with cancer or
have been cured and are living at this time.2 All of this is because more and more of us
are going and getting tests done, even without any signs of cancer. So cancer is being
detected early, and the earlier the cancer is detected the better the chance of survival.
It would be smart to go and talk to your doctor and see how often and for what you should
be tested for. A lot of the time there are not any symptoms until it is too late. So it is
so important to be checked on a regular basis.

Skin Cancer
Skin cancer can develop in any part of the body, but ninety percent of skin cancer
develops on parts of the skin that are mostly exposed to the sun. Such as, face, neck,
back of hands, ears, arms, etc. Melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell
carcinoma are the three types of skin cancer discussed in this paper. Most skin cancer
appears after the age of fifty, but the damage caused by the cancer is left unnoticed
until certain stages. By the age of sixty-five, forty to fifty percent of Americans will
be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in there life. Skin cancer is the most common
of all cancers. The American Cancer Society, (ACS), estimates basal cell, and squamous
cell carcinoma account for 1.3 million cases a year. Out of the 1.3 million people
diagnosed, on average, nineteen people die.1

Being exposed to direct sunlight is the leading factor in the development of skin cancer,
especially during childhood. The sun's rays are the most damaging between the hours of
10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. The sun can damage skin in as little as fifteen minutes, but it
can take up to twelve hours to show the full effect of the damage. The more a person has
blistering sun burns the higher risk the person has of developing skin cancer. A person
has a better chance of developing skin cancer if person has: light hair, pale skin, burns
easily, or has freckles.

Some symptoms of skin cancer are: change size, color, texture of any mole, or darkly
pigmented area of skin. If a mole begins to itch, become tender or bleed, a sore that
doesn't heal, or black spots underneath finger nails. If a person has any of these
symptoms lasting more than two weeks, person should consult a physician immediately. When
having regular checkups, your physician should always check your skin for any of these

Skin cancer is divided into two stages. The first stage is local. During this stage the
cancer affects only the skin. The second stage is metastasis. During this stage the cancer
that started in the skin will spread to other parts of the body.

A person born in the 1990's is twelve times more likely to develop melanoma than someone
born in the 1940's. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It is also the
least common type of skin cancer. Melanoma develops in the pigment cells. Melanoma has
been increasing faster than any form of cancer in the United States. In the United States
48,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma every year, 7,700 of these people die. Melanoma
accounts for more than seventy-five percent of all skin cancer deaths. The five year
survival rate from the time of diagnoses of melanoma is eighty-eight percent, ninety-six
percent if detected early.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. It develops in the upper layers of the epidermis.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It develops in the bottom layer of the epidermis.

Early detection and treatment is very important. If symptoms arise it is best to go to a
physician right away. They will most likely perform a biopsy and have the sample sent in
for testing. If cancer is found, the physician will help the patient choose the best
possible treatment for the patient. 100% of all skin cancers could be cured if they were
detected before they spread.2

Skin cancer treatment usually involves some type of surgery. When choosing a treatment the
physicians have to look at the patients' heath. If the patient is not in top condition for
surgery they may choose to use radiation or chemotherapy. In some cases they will use a
mixture of two treatments. For example, they might perform surgery and then use
chemotherapy to make sure they got all of the cancer. This is usually only a choice if the
cancer is advanced. They can also do laser therapy, cryosurgery, Moh's surgery, topical
chemotherapy, and radiation. When performing surgery or curettage, they use an instrument
with a very sharp spoon shaped edge, this is called a curette. After they numb the area
they use the curette to scoop out the cancer.

Laser therapy is used when the cancer is on the surface of the skin. They use a laser that
emits thin beam of light to remove and destroy the cancer cells. Cryosurgery is used to
treat pre-cancerous cells. Liquid nitrogen is applied to the growth to freeze and kill the
cancerous cells. After the skin thaws the dead cells fall off. This sometimes takes more
than one treatment. It does not hurt during the process, but after words it may swell and
be painful.

Moh's surgery is a special surgery. An anesthetic is used and the cancerous growth is
shaved of one layer at a time. Each layer is checked under a microscope, this is repeated
until the entire growth is removed. Topical chemotherapy is used when the cancer is
limited to the surface of the skin. A cream with an anti-cancer drug in it is applied to
the area for a few weeks. Sometimes intense inflammation occurs.

Skin cancer responds to radiation very well. This involves high energy rays to damage
cancer cells and stop them from multiplying. This is usually used when surgery is
impossible, like if the cancer was on the eyelid or inside of the ear. Several treatments
may be needed. Change in skin color or texture may appear years later.

When a large growth is removed sometimes a skin graft is needed. They take a piece of skin
from another part of the body and cover the area where the growth was removed. This can
reduce scaring.

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible,
or at least from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. When direct sunlight can not be avoided sun block
is needed. Indoor tanning is just as harmful so that should also be avoided.

Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a gland the only males have. It is in the lower abdomen below the bladder.
It is about the size of a plum and in the shape of a spade. The prostate wraps completely
around the urethra, which is the tube that empties the bladder. The prostate is connected
to the male reproductive organs. The prostate makes prostatic fluid which is a part of
semen. The prostate is not a vital organ. The cause of prostate cancer is unknown. One in
every ten American men will develop prostate cancer before the age of 85. And the numbers
are still rising. 41,000 men died from prostate cancer in 1996.3 It is the leading cancer
killer for men besides lung cancer.

Age is a big risk factor. Every man over the age of forty is at risk. Eighty percent of
men that develop prostate cancer are over sixty-five years old. And ninety percent of
deaths from prostate cancer are from men over sixty-five.

Genetics also plays a part, if the person's father has or had prostate cancer then the
person has twice the chance of developing prostate cancer. If there has been more people
in the family that have had prostate cancer, than the risk continues to rise. Racial
background affects the chances of a person developing prostate cancer. If the person is
black, he has a thirty-two percent higher risk than a white man. Europeans also have a
higher risk, Asians have the lowest risk.3 Where the person lives is also a contributing
factor. If the person lives in a place with a lot of sunlight he has a lower risk than a
person who lives somewhere without a lot of light. This is because Vitamin D helps prevent
microscopic prostate cancer from progressing.

Early prostate cancer usually does not have any signs. One of the only signs is if the
tumor forms very close to the urethra, which can interfere with urination. It can weaken
the urinary stream, give a feeling that the bladder is not completely emptying, or may
cause the need to urinate more often.

At the age of forty men should start getting a Digital Rectal Examination, (D.R.E.), every
year. A D.R.E. consists of a physician inserting a gloved and lubricated finger into the
rectum and pushing toward the pubic bone. The physician will feel the prostate gland for
any abnormal tissue. A D.R.E. takes about one minute. Digital Rectal Examinations only
catch about fifty percent of prostate cancers. This is because a physician is not able to
feel the entire gland, so if the tumor is on the other side of the gland it will be
missed. For this reason it is smart to also get a Prostate Specific Antigen, (P.S.A),
test. PSA is a molecule that the prostate gland produces, low amounts can be found in the
blood stream. When there is an infection or cancer in the prostate gland usually more PSA
is released into the blood stream. So the blood is dawn and sent to a lab to determine if
there are abnormal amounts in the blood. When a D.R.E. and a P.S.A are administered
together the majority of prostate cancers are found.

If something is found with either or both of these tests, a Trans Rectal Ultra Sound,
(TRUS), will be performed. During a TRUS a probe is inserted into the rectum and this
probe emits high frequency sound waves, these bounce off the prostate and send the
computer a picture of the prostate. Tumors show up on this picture, which helps in
biopsies. They actually have a biopsy tool on the probe sometimes so that they can take a
sample of any cancerous tissue they see while they are performing a TRUS. A TRUS can
sometimes miss cancerous tissues, but it is usually pretty effective. There are other
methods used besides the D.R.E., P.S.A, and TRUS, but they are not used as often. Most of
the other methods are used to get a picture of the prostate. They use a Bone Scan,
Computerized Tomography, and an MRI.

There are three main ways of doing a radical prostatectomy, which is removing the entire
prostate gland and the surrounding tissue. The first is nerve sparing radical
prostatectomy. It uses the retro pubic approach, which is an abdominal incision. The goal
is to preserve the nerves needed for an erection, and urinating functions. It is hard to
tell whether or not the cancer has spread to these nerves, so they cannot know until
actually performing the surgery. If the cancer has spread to these nerves, they will have
to be removed. If the cancer has only spread to one side of the nerves, an erection is
still possible.

The second is radical retro pubic prostatectomy. The incision is made in the lower
abdomen. This procedure is relatively close to radical prostatectomy. The main difference
is, in this procedure the doctors do not try to save the nerves. The nerves are removed.

The third is radical perineal prostatectomy. In this procedure the incision is made in the
perineum, which is the skin between the scrotum and the anus. It is quicker but this
procedure is not used for large tumors, and you cannot reach the lymph nodes. Sometimes a
lymph node dissection is made before the radical perineal prostatectomy, to determine if
the cancer has reached the lymph nodes. If the lymph nodes are cancerous, radical retro
pubic prostatectomy is used.

Before having any type of radical prostatectomy, the patient is required to donate blood
because some men need blood transfusions during the procedure. The younger the person is
when the procedure is performed the better the chances are of a quick and successful

Another way of fighting prostate cancer is external beam radiation therapy, which is EBRT.
EBRT devices emit high energy x-rays, or gamma-rays, to damage the cancer cells. This
stops the cancer cells from reproducing, or multiplying, in order to increase your chance
of survival. But, it also damages your healthy cell at the same time. To have this
procedure done your life expectancy must be at least seven to ten years. Surgery must not
be an option, and the cancer must be confined in order for this treatment to be
considered. The procedure takes about ten to twenty minutes, with at least five to seven
treatments in ten to twelve weeks. No hospitalization is needed. There is a much lower
risk of impotence, and incontinence, with this treatment.

Colorectal Cancer

Colon cancer is the second leading cancer killer in men and women. The colon has four
layers, the inside layer is the mucosa, the second is the sub mucosa, then the muscle
layer, and the outside layer is the serosa. Colorectal cancer starts in the end of the
digestive tract. Changes in the cells of the inner layer of the intestine cause abnormal
growth. The four main types of the colon are the ascending, transverse, descending, and

If the person's mother, father, or siblings had or has colon cancer then the person has
two or three times the chance of developing colorectal cancer. 4 Exercising lowers the
risk, especially if you have always been active. Being overweight can affect the risk
because eating more calories than you burn causes the body to produce more cells. And if
any of those cells are cancerous than they multiply at a very fast rate.

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