You can’t just call any weird acting and looking cell in the body a cancer cell. For a cell to be considered cancerous, it’s got to have what’s known as the 6 hallmarks of a cancer cell. The 6 critical characteristics of an abnormal cell that classifies it as a cell gone wrong, and they are:
- Cheats Death – Normal cells are programed to die at a certain point. Cancer cells don’t have it in them to just up and die like the rest of the body
- Works Independantly – Normal cells require what’s known as growth signals from neighbouring cells or from the body to mature and divide. Cancer cells produce their own self-signals and divide forever.
- Stops Listening To Others – When a cell reaches it’s limit, the body tells it to stop dividing by producing anti-growth signals. Cancer cells don’t respond to these signals and keep dividing over normal cells that have otherwised stopped growing.
- Self Building Bloodworks – For a tissue to sustain itself, it requires nutrients from the blood. Any further from the source and it stops growing. Cancer cells have the unique ability to signal the growth of new blood vessels to itself for it to keep growing.
- Immortal Division- Aside from being programmed to die, all cells have a limit to how many times they can divide before they cannot divide any more. Cancer cells have unlimited dividing potential. They never stop dividing. They are true immortal cells.
- Spreads Seeds of Doom – Every normal tissue has boundaries. Even benign tumours don’t cross into other tissues, merely pressing against. Malignant tumours on the other hand spreads and invades into other tissues. Cancer cells can break off too, spreading “seeds” around to other parts of the body which grow into new tumours. This is called metastasis and it is the final and most important criteria that defines a cancer
Now you know. So it doesn’t mean anything that divides rapidly has to be a cancer cell. It just has to fit these 6 criterias. Makes you feel smarter doesn’t it?
This year Footsteps in the Mirror will be blogging to raise money for the Association for International Cancer Research which is a non-profit organisation that helps fund cancer research throughout the world. If you’re willing to help, you can sign up on the Blogathon website and pledge your amount right here. Help make a difference, no matter how small it may be.