Understanding Cancer

Why do people get cancer?

As we discussed earlier, cancer is mutated cells multiplying from DNA variation.

Then where do DNA variations come from?

There are three major factors: genetic, environmental, and errors in cell division.

The genetic factor is what we commonly call “family history”, where one is born with DNA that is susceptible to change.
Angelina Jolie went through genetic testing and found out that she has a defective BRCA1 gene, which gave her an 87% risk of developing breast cancer. She decided to undergo preventive mastectomy as a result.

The environmental factor refers to the DNA in the cells being damaged by the carcinogenic chemicals and pathogens from tobacco, alcohol, and the surrounding environment.
The most common types of cancer caused by the environmental factors include lung cancer, esophageal cancer, and stomach cancer.

Errors in gene sequences replication process > DNA mutation > cancer cells

The errors in cell division mean exactly what it sounds like. The cells in our body are always being replaced to maintain its condition. When a new cell is made, approximately three billion gene sequences have to be replicated. Errors in this replication process cause the cells to mutate and multiply into cancer.

Then what factor is the most prevalent?

Cancer is an uncontrollable disease that occurs inside the body.

The answer is the cell division errors. They are responsible for 66% of all cancer, compared to the 5% from genetic factors, and 29% from environmental factors. This can be news for those who would have thought that cancer is caused mostly by family history or lifestyle.

The problem here is that cell division errors are very hard to predict. Genetic and environmental factors can be examined through DNA tests and lifestyle analyses to identify high risk patients. Cancer from cell division error, on the other hand, happens at random, making it nearly impossible to predict.

Does it mean that there is nothing we can do about cancer?

An AI-based early diagnosis and an effective treatment regimen may be able to help us.

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chapter 1
Understanding Cancer
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