Cancer is any of various diseases in which cells of the body grow in
abnormally and unchecked ways, often spreading throughout the
body. When a mass of cells grows and spreads, it is called a
There are three main types of treatments for cancer: surgery,
chemotherapy, and radiation. The most common treatment is
chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a series of strong drugs given
together. It can be taken in many forms. If you are
hosptalized then it will probably be flowing through your body from a
sack connected to veins in your arm. If you are on the go, you
can get pills, liquid medications, and even possibly a nasal
spray. With chemo you will get side effects. Your hair may
fall out, you will get chapped lips, you will feel tired, and you are
often nauseated or lose your appetite. Many chemotherapy drugs
are somewhat poisonous. That is why they may make you sick. Their
goal is to kill the Cancer cells, but some healthy cells get damaged or
Patients who get radiation therapy don’t feel a thing until after the
treatment. The x-rays kill the tumor, but they also damage
healthy tissue. Many of the side effects are similar to chemo.
Surgery was the original cancer treatment and is still widely
used. A very advanced type of surgery is called targeted surgery
and is very new. It is when oncologists remove just the tumor but
almost none of the healthy tissue. One common surgery is
mastectomy for breast cancer patients.
Dieting treatment is one of the easiest. All you do is eat very
healthy and exercise as often as possible. Though you never do it
separately from other treatments, it can be very effective with other
Cancer is a disease that goes back thousands of years. The most
famous person in cancer history was Hippocrates who lived in about 400
BC. He named cancer after the Ancient Greek word “carcinos” for
crab. He named it “crab” because the tumor body looked like a
crab and the tumor spreading looked like crab legs. Also, from 1990 to
1998, doctor Vincent T. DeVita invented the chemotherapy process.
He was very important in developing the first successful curative
chemotherapy program for a variety of cancers. Halstead was also
a hero in medicine. He found the way to conduct Mastectomy, which
is the most common Breast Cancer surgery.
In the future doctors think that we will see many more targeted
therapies. They will do a better job of killing cancer cells
without harming healthy cells.
Parts of Cells
In order to understand cancer you have to understand cells.
Cancer cells are the cause of cancer.
The cell wall is a very important part of the cell. It forms an
outer boundary and controls what comes in and out of the cell.
The cytoplasm is a gel like material inside the cell; it has the water
and nutrients to spread throughout the body. A cell’s nucleus
contains the chromosomes with DNA.
The nuclear membrane separates the nucleus from the cytoplasm.
The part that moves the materials around the cell is called the
endoplasmic reticulum. Ribosomes make protein for the cell.
Golgi bodies are used for packaging and secreting energy.
Mitochondria break down the food and release energy. The lysosomes are
chemicals to digest waste and vacuoles are storage areas for the cell.
Cancer cells invade healthy cells in certain tissue. The cancer
cells multiply and multiply until they form a lump of cells. The lump
of cells is called a tumor.
Who I Interviewed And What I Learned
I interviewed Vicky Jones on December 28, 2005 at her
house. I chose to interview her because she is a close family friend
and an oncologist (cancer doctor).
She works at North Star Lodge and has been an oncologist for 20
years. Her field is medical oncology and she is a specialist in
breast cancer therapy. For schooling she had started by going to
medical school to become a doctor; then she went to her residency
training, which in her case was internal medicine. After that she
flew to an Oncology school to get her specialty work.
She got interested in the field of medicine because it
is always changing and being part of the research keeps your mind alive
and lets you see all the exciting thing that are changing. “I
enjoy the patients that I get because they are from a special group and
are very much needing what I do. The atmosphere is also
wonderful. It’s an area that makes me learn every day, so it’s
intellectually stimulating,” said Vicky. She likes being an
Oncologist because she gets to go home feeling satisfied and is always
Cancer goes back thousands of years. People think of it
as a more recent problem, but it isn’t. Long ago they didn’t have a lot
of the medicine and machines we do today. They didn’t know what
it was and how to treat it. So cancer treatment in its current
form is really just 100 years old. Many people have helped in the
history of cancer. One of them was named Halstead. He
invented Mastectomy, or Breast Cancer surgery. Another one was
named doctor T. DeVita. She was the first to realize that
chemotherapy killed cancer.
When I asked her when cancer started to become the huge problem it is
today, she answered that it isn’t huge at all. It is pretty
significant. The thing is that people long ago often died from
diseases that we don’t have anymore, like polio. In the last fifty
years it has become a bigger problem. Years ago people didn’t
talk about it, and that made it unrecognized. Around WWII people
started smoking heavily, both men and women. That really
increased lung cancer.
A new thing in the study of cancer research is team
efforts. An exciting thing for Oncologists is that they are
learning a lot more about cells and how they can disobey the rules of
the body. Some of the major problems today for cancer researchers
are related to insurance. Scientists are predicting many more
targeted therapies in the future.
I am very glad I got to interview Vicky, because she has a very busy
schedule and still took time to talk with me.
American Cancer Society. Cancer facts and figures. Atlanta GA:
National home office: ACS, 2005
American Cancer Society. The smoke around you. Atlanta GA:
American Cancer Society inc., 2003
Benowitz, Steven. Cancer. Berkeley Heights NJ: Enslow publishers, 1999
Fradin, Dennis. Cancer. Chicago: Children’s press, 1988
Harris, Jules. Cancer. World book Encyclopedia: 1998, Vol. 3
Jones, Vicky. Personal interview. December 28, 2005
Yount, Lisa. Cancer. San Diego CA: Lucent books Inc, 1991
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