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Six alterations in cell physiology that could lead to cancer


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  1. Six alterations in cell physiology that could lead to cancer (malignant) formation.
  • Self sufficiency in growth signals

Unlike the other cells of the body, cancer cells do not need stimulation from external growth signals to divide. These growth signals include hormones and other molecules that normally stimulate the normal cell to divide under normal physiology. A cancerous cell develops some sort of autonomy and is able to grow without these signals. This is achieved by the cancerous cell producing the signals itself, what is referred to as autocrine signaling. In a normal cell, growth stimulated by growth signals is checked by a negative feedback mechanism. However, in a cancerous cell, that normal physiology is altered and the cell no longer responds to the negative feedback but continues to multiply indefinitely…………….Six alterations in cell physiology that could lead to cancer

  • Resistance to anti-growth signals

The normal cell is responsive to growth suppressive signals thus arresting its growth at various times. For instance during the G0  phase of cell division, the cells are not in the active process of cell division. A normal cell too has checkpoints in the process of cell division where some sort of audit of the process is done and if the cell is found to have altered DNA,or expressing oncogenes, specialized proteins will interrupt the process until the correction in the DNA is made. If the defect in DNA can’t be repaired, the cell is destroyed.

In a cancerous cell, these specialized proteins and their signals are markedly altered. Tumour suppressors such as p53 are also altered thus leading to unchecked cellular proliferation. Another alteration in normal physiology is at contact inhibition, the cancer cells continue to proliferate if when the space containing them is fully used up.

  • Ability to evade apoptosis

Apoptosis is a normal physiological cell process, whereby cells self destruct, which helps the body get rid of defective cells. This process is essential for the proper growth of the organism. Cancer cells have the inherent capability of avoiding this normal and essential cell physiological process. They do this by altering the mechanisms that normally detect defects in cells. The proteins that trigger the apoptosis are also altered meaning the cancer cell despite having gross DNA damage, continues to multiply.

Six alterations in cell physiology that could lead to cancer


  • Indefinite life span

Non cancerous cells have a life span in that after a given number of replications, the cell normally dies. In a cancerous cell the growth is limitless. The normal body cell has DNA at the chromosome ends that dictate the cells life span. This important structure is called the telomere and it is what that a cancerous cell alters. This cell achieves this by increasing the length of the telomeres using special enzymes. By this, the cancerous cell will divide and divide without a life span.

  • Neovascularization

Under normal physiology formation of new blood vessels is tightly regulated and occurs during the period of embryogenesis, during wound healing processes and the female uterine lining. The normal body cells are in the proximity of the cells to get their nourishment of oxygen and nutrients. Cancerous cells because they too need oxygen for their survival is able to activate the process of new blood vessel formation. They do so by activating angiogenic factors process non cancerous cells cannot.

  • Ability to invade surrounding tissue and to spread

Cancerous cells have the ability to produce enzymes such as tissue proteases that enable them to invade the surrounding tissues. They produce collagenase that is able to facilitate invasion of extracellular matrix. By this, unlike normal cells, a cancerous cell may find its way into the blood circulation and a tumour will be established at a distant site

Six alterations in cell physiology that could lead to cancer

  1. The Warburg effect and its relation to formation of cancer cells

Like normal cells, tumour cells must meet energy demand to cate for their cellular synthetic