Book: The Gale Encyclopedia Of Cancer: A Guide To Cancer And Its Treatments (Gale Encyclopedia of Cancer) 2 Volume Set
Unfortunately, man must suffer disease. Some diseases
are totally reversible and can be effectively treated.
Moreover, some diseases with proper treatment have
been virtually annihilated, such as polio, rheumatic
fever, smallpox, and, to some extent, tuberculosis. Other
diseases seem to target one organ, such as the heart, and
there has been great progress in either fixing defects,
adding blood flow, or giving medications to strengthen
the diseased pump. Cancer, however, continues to frustrate
even the cleverest of doctors or the most fastidious
of health conscious individuals. Why?
By its very nature, cancer is a survivor. It has only
one purpose: to proliferate. After all, that is the definition
of cancer: unregulated growth of cells that fail to heed
the message to stop growing. Normal cells go through a
cycle of division, aging, and then selection for death.
Cancer cells are able to circumvent this normal cycle,
and escape recognition to be eliminated.
There are many mechanisms that can contribute to
this unregulated cell growth. One of these mechanisms is
inheritance. Unfortunately, some individuals can be programmed
for cancer due to inherited disorders in their
genetic makeup. In its simplest terms, one can inherit a
faulty gene or a missing gene whose role is to eliminate
damaged cells or to prevent imperfect cells from growing.
Without this natural braking system, the damaged
cells can divide and lead to more damaged cells with the
same abnormal genetic makeup as the parent cells.
Given enough time, and our inability to detect them,
these groups of cells can grow to a size that will cause
discomfort or other symptoms.