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the origin of cancer


The human body is made up of trillions of cells. These normal body cells grow, divide and die in an orderly fashion. During the first few years of a person's life, cells divide more quickly to allow the person to grow. Then, in adulthood, most cells divide only to replace dead cells or to repair damage. Under normal conditions, this process is ordered and controlled, and is responsible for the formation, growth and regeneration of healthy body tissues.

On the other hand, there are situations in which these cells, for various reasons, undergo a process called carcinogenesis, and assume aberrant characteristics when compared to normal cells. These cells lose the ability to limit and control their own growth, so they multiply very quickly and without any control.

The breast is formed by adipose tissue (fat), glandular tissue, where the lobules and acini (where milk is produced), blood and lymphatic vessels are located. Ducts are channels that drain to the nipple or nipple-areola complex (PAC). The skin lines the breast, and attaches to it through Cooper's ligaments.

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Lobes and Breast Ducts

How does cancer start?

Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled cell growth. Cancer begins when a single cell mutates, resulting in a breakdown of normal regulatory controls that keep cell division under control. These mutations can be inherited, caused by errors in DNA replication, or resulting from exposure to harmful chemicals. A cancerous tumor can spread to other parts of the body and, if left untreated, be fatal.

Cells become cancerous due to damage to their genetic material, DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid). DNA is an organic compound whose molecules contain the genetic instructions of all cells, forming genes.

Some genes have instructions for controlling cell growth and division. Genes that promote cell division are called oncogenes. Genes that slow cell division or cause cells to die at the right time are called tumor suppressor genes. Cancers can be caused by changes in the DNA, which mutate oncogenes, or by turning off tumor suppressor genes.

People can inherit anomalous (mutated) DNA, but most DNA damage is caused by errors that occur when the cell divides or by exposure to a carcinogen. Sometimes the cause of DNA damage can be from smoking, environmental pollution, or exposure to the sun. But it's rare to know exactly what caused a particular person's cancer.

Cancer starts when one or more cells in some organ or tissue in the body begin to grow out of control. This growth is different from normal cell growth. Instead of dying, cancer cells keep growing and forming new abnormal cells. Cancer cells can also invade other tissues, something normal cells don't. Uncontrolled growth and invasion of other tissues is what makes a cell cancerous.

Carcinogenesis or oncogenesis, in general, happens slowly, and it can take several years for a cancer cell to proliferate and give rise to a visible tumor. The cumulative effects of different carcinogens or carcinogens are responsible for the initiation, promotion and progression of the tumor

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First genetic mutation until tumor formation

How does cancer spread?

Carcinogenesis is determined by exposure to various agents, and also depends on the frequency, duration and interaction between them. However, the individual characteristics that facilitate or hinder the installation of cell damage must be considered. This process consists of three stages:

• Initiation stage: genes undergo the action of inducing carcinogens, which cause changes in some of their genes. At this stage, the cells are genetically altered, but it is still not possible to detect a tumor clinically.

• Promotion stage: genetically altered cells are affected by agents classified as promoters. The cell changes into a malignant cell, slowly and gradually. For this process to occur, a long and continuous contact with the promoting carcinogen is necessary. Suspension of contact with promoting agents often interrupts the process. Some components of food, environment and excessive and prolonged exposure to hormones are examples of factors that promote the transformation of cells initiated into malignant ones.

• Progression stage: characterized by the uncontrolled and irreversible multiplication of altered cells. At this stage, cancer is already installed, evolving until the first clinical manifestations of the disease appear.

Metastasis is a complex biological phenomenon characterized by the spread of tumor cells from the primary tumor to one or more different tissue sites, through blood and lymphatic circulation. In malignant epithelial (lining tissue) tumors, the metastatic potential has been linked to the “Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition” (ability to invade other tissues). The most common sites of breast cancer metastases are lung, liver, bone and brain.

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Carcinogenesis and metastasis formation

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Sorocaba Medical Center


Rua Sorocaba, 464 - room 202

Tel. 21 2537-0138 / 2539-5093

    Second fourth  it's Friday

Americas Medical City

Barra da Tijuca

Av. Jorge Curi, 550 - rooms 252/253

Tel. 21 3264-4866 / 3264-4863

    Tuesday and Thursday

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