What Stem Cell Theory Relating to Cancer is All About
Cancer is a large group of diseases caused by the abnormal and rapid division of cells with the ability to invade different parts of the body. The cells do not undergo a cell process apoptosis which is a programmed cell death hence can live longer than normal cells should. Cancer is among the leading cause of human deaths in the world. Scientists have come up with several theories to help them, and other people understand cancer better. Among them is the stem cell theory of cancer Stem cell theory of cancer.
Stem cell theory of cancer
The theory is based on the fact that research has shown that there are major differences among cancers. Not all of them are the same. The theory suggests that among cells that are cancerous, a few behave like stem cells. Cancer stem cells can lead to cancer formation resulting from their indefinite division. Tissues and cells with a very high rate of turnover like the skin have a greater chance of being affected. Some of the cells that behave as stem cells reproduce themselves and thus maintain the cancer cells.
Implications for treatment of cancer.
Cancer stem cells that arise from normal stem cells may release DNA repair protein that might raise the chances of chemotherapeutic agents not working. Therefore, cancer might re-occur in the patient. It also implies that cancer is fueled by just a small group of stem cells. Therefore, this has led to a lot of therapies for cancer patients being carried out on the basis of capability to cause shrinkage of tumors. If this does not result in the death of the stem cells in the tumor, it will grow back. It also implies that cancer stem cells are the cause of cancer traveling to different parts of the body from another part (metastasis). Cancer stem cells can also act as an accumulation of cells that might cause new tumors. Conventional chemotherapy results in the death of differentiated cells and those cells undergoing differentiation. Development of some therapies for cancer stem cells gives hope that the quality of life will continue to improve especially for those suffering from metastatic tumors.
Origin of cancer stem cells
The origin of cancer stem cells is still an area of a lot of debate from scientists. Research on it is ongoing, many different theories explain the origin of CSC. One theory claims that their source depends on the type and physical characteristics. They can result from a mutation process in the population of stem cells when they are developing. The theory claims that in the development process, the group of stem cells undergoes changes in the process of mutation and they divide rapidly such that the resulting mutant is shared by most of the descendants of the stem cell that underwent the mutation. The resultant cells are very many hence have a higher chance of becoming cancer cells. The existence of Cancer stem cells is still under debate because studies have not been conclusive.
There is no clear indication of similarities and differences between the tumor causing stem cells and normal stem cells.
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