Describe the pathophysiology of the general process of abnormal cellular growth as it relates to all types of cancer.
Normal cells become cancer cells because of DNA damage. In cancer cells, damaged cells are not repaired and they do not die; instead, the cells reproduce damaged cells. These cells grow out of control and invade other tissues (American Cancer Society, 2013).
Compare and contrast the pathophysiology of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma.
Basal cell carcinomas develop in the basal cell layer of the skin, usually due to sun light exposure causing DNA damage in the form of thymine dimers. Squamous cell carcinoma develops from the epidermal ketarinocytes, generally from sun exposure although other carcinogens can cause this cancer on skin that does not get sun exposure. Malignant melanoma arises from melanocytes and can occur spontaneously or from preexisting lesions and are linked to sun exposure.
Explain the concept of tumor angiogenesis factor as it related to the possibility of tumors at multiple sites.
Tumor angiogenesis factor is a protein that stimulates the formation of blood vessels in tumors, sending signals to host tissue that encourage the growth of new blood vessels. Because these blood vessels connect the tumor to the blood supply, they make it possible for the cancer to metastasize, and, thus, occur in multiple sites.
4. Melanie is diagnosed with malignant melanoma. The physician excised the affected area as well as a malignant lymph node. He states “I know we have it all.” What concept may disprove this statement?
The cancer already metastasized to at least one lymph node, which would generally mean that all of the lymph nodes in that lymphatic basin should be removed.
5. Another oncologist is consulted after Melanie has an additional recurrence of malignant melanoma. After studying her case, the oncologist recommends treatment focused on proper cell clock performance. Explain the concept of “loss of cell clock” and the impact on Melanie’s condition.
Cell clock refers to how stem cells spend their time in the mitosis process. Cancer cells cease maturing and dying, and, instead, reproduce without restraint. They never stop dividing and they fail to mature. Once activated, oncogenes drive this relentless reproduction, suggesting that, even if tumors are removed, Melanie’s body will still be primed for the production of melanoma cells.
6. How can Melanie protect herself from malignant melanoma and other types of skin cancer?
The most important step that any person can take to protect themselves from various types of skin cancer is to avoid excessive sun exposure or UV light exposure and to use protective clothing, sunscreen, and accessories (hats, sunglasses, etc.) when in the sun.
7. Find a respected website (.org or .gov or .edu) and discuss current research regarding vaccines for skin cancer, current available statistics of incidence of skin cancer, and new treatments for skin cancer.
More than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year (American Cancer Society, 2012). In 2013, a Phase I clinical trial began to examine the impact of a vaccine on skin cancer treatment. The trial is testing the efficacy of a therapeutic (rather than preventative) vaccine aimed at treating melanoma. The vaccine uses a disk-like sponge which “is implanted under the skin, and is designed to recruit and reprogram a patient’s own immune cells “on site,” instructing them to travel through the body, home in on cancer cells, then kill them” (Farber, 2013). Some developing treatments for skin cancer include lymph node mapping with examination of sentinel nodes to examine for metastasis, the use of interferon to prevent recurrence, and immunotherapy aimed at boosting the immune system response to certain cancerous cells.
American Cancer Society. (2013). What is cancer? Retrieved November 6, 2013 from Cancer.org website: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerbasics/what-is-cancer
American Cancer Society. (2012). Skin cancer prevention and early detection. Retrieved November 6, 2013 from Cancer.org website: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/skincancer-melanoma/moreinformation/skincancerpreventionandearlydetection/skin-cancer-prevention-and-early-detection-intro
Ferber, D. (2013, September 6). Cancer vaccine begins Phase I clinical trials. Retrieved November 6, 2013 from Harvard Gazette website: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/09/cancer-vaccine-begins-phase-i-clinical-trials/
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