Proto-oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, and DNA repair genes are the three primary categories of genes that contribute to cancer. These changes have been referred to as “drivers” of the disease in certain circles.
To keep cells healthy, proto-oncogenes play a role in mitosis and proliferation. However, these genes can become cancer-causing genes (also known as oncogenes) if they are changed in some manner or are more active than usual, allowing cells to grow and survive when they should not.
Cell proliferation and division are both regulated by tumor suppressor genes. Tumor suppressor genes can cause uncontrolled cell division in cells with particular mutations.
DNA repair genes are involved in repairing DNA that has been broken in a way that cannot be fixed. Mutations in these genes often lead to the development of further mutations in other genes and chromosomal abnormalities such as chromosome duplications and deletions. The combination of these two mutations has the potential to transform the cells into malignant ones.
More research into the genetic changes that contribute to cancer has led scientists to discover that certain mutations are widespread across many cancers. Many cancer medicines now target cancer-causing gene alterations. Some of these treatments can be utilized by anyone with cancer with a certain mutation, regardless of where the tumor first developed.
Whenever a disease has spread.
Cancer that has migrated from its original site to another body section is called metastatic cancer. It is known as metastasis when a cancer cell applies to other body places.
Because it spreads from the primary tumor, metastatic cancer is named after the primary tumor and possesses cancer cells identical to the primary tumor. Metastatic breast cancer, for example, is not lung cancer but breast cancer that has spread to the lungs.
If you look at cancer cells under a microscope, you’ll see that they’re very similar to the initial cancer cells. The molecular properties of metastatic and primary cancer cells are often identical, including the presence of particular chromosomal alterations.
People with metastatic cancer may benefit from treatment in some situations. Treatment for metastatic cancer may focus on controlling cancer’s growth or alleviating the symptoms it is causing. Most cancer patients die due to the disease spreading to other parts of the body, and this is the most common cause of death for cancer patients with metastatic disease.
Non-cancer-Related Tissue Alterations
Cancer isn’t the only disease that affects the body’s tissues. However, some abnormalities in the tissue may lead to cancer if they are not addressed. Non-cancerous alterations in the body’s tissue are sometimes examined for the possibility that they could turn cancerous, as in the following cases:
When cells inside a tissue multiply at a greater rate than usual, hyperplasia occurs, they are resulting in an overabundance of cells. Under a microscope, the cells, and organization of the tissue, on the other hand, appear to be normal. Chronic irritation is one possible reason for hyperplasia, but there are others.
Dysplasia is a more advanced form of hyperplasia, so it is more difficult to treat. Extra cells accumulate as well in dysplasia. However, the cells appear aberrant, and the tissue’s organization has shifted. A cancerous tumor is more likely to form if a person’s cells and tissues appear abnormally aberrant. A few dysplastic conditions necessitate treatment, but most don’t. A dysplastic nevus is an abnormal mole that grows on the skin as an example of dysplasia. Melanoma can develop from a dysplastic nevus, but this is not always the case.
An even more advanced form of cancer is carcinoma in situ. Because the aberrant cells do not enter the surrounding tissue the same way as cancer cells, it is not cancer. However, because some carcinomas in situ may develop into cancer, they are routinely treated.