A Collection of Related Diseases
Cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases. In all types of cancer, some of the body’s cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues.
Cancer can start almost anywhere in the human body, which is made up of trillions of cells. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.
When cancer develops, however, this orderly process breaks down. As cells become more and more abnormal, old or damaged cells survive when they should die, and new cells form when they are not needed. These extra cells can divide without stopping and may form growths called tumors.
Many cancers form solid tumors, which are masses of tissue. Cancers of the blood, such as leukemias, generally do not form solid tumors.
Cancerous tumors are malignant, which means they can spread into, or invade, nearby tissues. In addition, as these tumors grow, some cancer cells can break off and travel to distant places in the body through the blood or the lymph system and form new tumors far from the original tumor.
Unlike malignant tumors, benign tumors do not spread into, or invade, nearby tissues. Benign tumors can sometimes be quite large, however. When removed, they usually don’t grow back, whereas malignant tumors sometimes do. Unlike most benign tumors elsewhere in the body, benign brain tumors can be life threatening.
Differences between Cancer Cells and Normal Cells
Cancer cells differ from normal cells in many ways that allow them to grow out of control and become invasive. One important difference is that cancer cells are less specialized than normal cells. That is, whereas normal cells mature into very distinct cell types with specific functions, cancer cells do not. This is one reason that, unlike normal cells, cancer cells continue to divide without stopping.
In addition, cancer cells are able to ignore signals that normally tell cells to stop dividing or that begin a process known as programmed cell death, or apoptosis, which the body uses to get rid of unneeded cells.
Cancer cells may be able to influence the normal cells, molecules, and blood vessels that surround and feed a tumor—an area known as the microenvironment. For instance, cancer cells can induce nearby normal cells to form blood vessels that supply tumors with oxygen and nutrients, which they need to grow. These blood vessels also remove waste products from tumors.
Cancer cells are also often able to evade the immune system, a network of organs, tissues, and specialized cells that protects the body from infections and other conditions. Although the immune system normally removes damaged or abnormal cells from the body, some cancer cells are able to “hide” from the immune system.
Tumors can also use the immune system to stay alive and grow. For example, with the help of certain immune system cells that normally prevent a runaway immune response, cancer cells can actually keep the immune system from killing cancer cells.
1. Explain briefly and in your own words, what cancer is.
2. Cancer is more common in older people than in younger people. It turns out age related decline (in immune function or cell division, for example) does not explain this pattern. Obviously, the longer you live the longer you are exposed to carcinogens. The question is, why does longer exposure lead to more cancer? Think about the “drivers” of cancer and speculate on why cancer becomes more common the older you get?
3. More than 60% of the world’s new cancer cases occur in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. And 70% of the world’s cancer deaths occur in these places.
Why do you think 70% of cancer deaths occur in these regions? Give 3 possible reasons. You do not have to do any research—any reasonable speculation is fine. Be sure to propose 3 different reasons and not multiple examples of the same issue. For example, -toxins in water and toxins in food is one reason, not two. ( GRAPH IS UPLOADED ON FILES)
4. Click on California on the map. https://statecancerprofiles.cancer.gov/https://statecancerprofiles.cancer.gov/
In the top row (All Cancer Sites) note how we are doing relative to the national Incidence rate. (Note the units, explained in the fine print at the bottom of the table.)
Click on 5-year Rate Change Graph. Look at this graph. (Note that only cancers with a # next to them have significantly changed.)
Imagine someone asked you, “How are we doing in California as far as cancer goes?” What would you tell them? Interpret the information in the graph you generated to write a response. Be detailed in your explanation.
Your response should be at least one full paragraph and mention specific, not just overall rates of cancer in CA.Click on California on the map.
In the top row (All Cancer Sites) note how we are doing relative to the national Incidence rate. (Note the units, explained in the fine print at the bottom of the table.)
5.Read the articleRead the article
When researchers attempted to figure out what was causing hyperthyroidism in cats, they found a number of risk factors, but eventually focused on a class of flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). What evidence did the researchers find to support the hypothesis that PBDEs were the cause of the hyperthyroidism in cats? (NB: at least 5 different lines of evidence are given in the article. See if you can summarize them all.)
6. Researchers have found a clear and strong signal in the data: cats with high levels of PBDEs in their blood have thyroid disease and cats with low levels of PBDE rarely if ever have thyroid disease.
Explain why this fact is not enough evidence for scientists to conclude that PBDEs cause hyperthyroidism in cats?
7.What sort of evidence would scientists need to be satisfied that that PBDE is the cause of hyperthyroidism in cats? Briefly describe the sort of study that would definitively demonstrate that PBDEs are the cause of hyperthyroidism in cats.
8.Why might the epidemic of hyperthyroidism in cats be relevant to humans? Use the data in the graph of California cancer statistic above to support your answer.
9. Read A Guide to Assessing Sources on the WebRead , sections A and F. (UPLOADED ON FILES) Then look at the website of the Gerson Institute https://gerson.org/the-gerson-therapy/https://gerson.org/the-gerson-therapy/ which provides an alternative cancer treatment at clinics in Mexico and Hungary. The Gerson Institute claims to be able to effectively treat and even cure cancer. If someone directed you to this site, how would you determine if it is a good therapy or not?
Spend some time looking over the site thoroughly before answering the questions. You are looking for indicators reliability or red flags that suggest unreliability. Remember that reliability does not mean the information agrees with what you think is true, but rather that the site has sources, evidence, good grammar and production, lack of questionable elements like advertisements and sales pitches, makes verifiable or testable claims, etc.
Look at the homepage first. Then look at the “About Us” tab and the “The Gerson Therapy” tab to get a sense of who the organization is and what they offer.
QUESTION : Evaluate the website. How reliable do you think it is?
List the indicators of reliability or red flags you find.
Discuss the overall reliability of the Gerson alternative cancer treatment.
10. Some people maintain that the “cancer establishment” (composed of pharmaceutical companies, oncologists (cancer doctors), and other groups) is ignoring, actively discouraging, or even suppressing treatments for cancer.
Discuss whether you think it is credible that effective treatments or even cures for cancer are known, but have not been adopted by modern medicine.
11. GRAPH IS UPLOADED ON FILES -Should a legitimate cancer doctor (oncologist) advertise?
The United States is nearly the only country in the developed world to allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise directly to consumers (New Zealand is the only other). Many physician groups have called for a ban, but lobbyist have fought off all legal challenges so far. Should we as a society allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise to us directly?
Why or why not?
12. Controversies In Science
A number of controversies exist in science and in the medical and research world. For example, we are not sure how well sunscreens protect us from melanoma. The role of vitamin D in cancer is currently debated. Recently a major controversy has been raging on prostate cancer screening.
What should we, as concerned people who may not be experts, do when confronted with an scientific controversy, especially one that affects our lives?
Many people’s first impulse would be to research the issue and the people supporting the divergent positions. This is always a great idea, but in an actual scientific controversy, it is unlikely to help you decide what to do. Both sides will have solid credentials and reliable evidence to support their position. Neither side will have obvious flaws or fallacies in their reasoning, and unless you are well versed in statistics, physiology, biochemistry, etc., you might not be able to evaluate the quality of the evidence yourself.
You would be given two competing claims and they cannot both be right. Yet you have to decide what to do in the absence of a “right” answer. What do you do?
I am asking about controversy in general, not about any one controversy. Is there a strategy, or a way of approaching controversial issues that we can use? Is there an attitude we can adopt to manage the uncertainty?
Your response should be well-organized, argued convincingly, and free of more than minor language issues. It should consist of about 200-250 words. You should support your ideas or arguments. You do not need to do any research. This is a thought question. There is no right answer.


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