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Cancer – Overview

March 4, 2021


"Cancer is not one condition. It's a group of conditions with an underlying thread. And that thread is uncontrolled cell growth. The doctor may use terms like growth, lump, lesion, nodule, and those might all be used interchangeably to refer to the same thing. Some growths are not cancerous, and we call those benign. Others are, we call those malignant. You might say, what is the problem with uncontrolled cell growth? Well, if cells grow out of control, they compete for space. They compete for nutrients with your normal body tissues and eventually interfere with your body's overall function, which brings us to an important question. What are cells? If you were to zoom in under the microscope to any part of your body, the cell is the basic building block. And each cell uses DNA. Think of DNA like the encyclopedia that tells the body how any function should work. Now, each cell might only read a few chapters, for example, to learn how to become a hair cell or a skin cell or a kidney cell, a bone cell, they're all reading from different chapters of the same giant DNA blueprint. Now cells have turnover. Turnover means that if you look at your body a year ago and your body now, the cells have changed. They've recycled. Old ones have died off, replaced by new ones. So each of the cells in our body knows when to divide and replenish, but most importantly, knows when to stop dividing. And that's where cancer comes into play. A cell has some kind of mistake, for example, in the DNA, and it no longer stops dividing and begins to grow out of control. That's when cancer forms. When a cell wants to divide and replenish itself, it looks to the DNA and you can think of it like a photocopy machine. Imagine a photocopy machine turning along, making replacement bone cells, for example, one, after the other, replenishing nice healthy bone cells. At a certain point, because we have millions if not billions of cells in our body, the photocopy machine might make a small error and copy the cell and copy the DNA in a way that makes a bad copy. That bad copy leads to cancer."

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