Cancer and the System
The Study of human systems such as Integumentary System, Endocrine System,Renal System, Gastrointestinal System, Nervous, Musculoskeletal System, Lymphatic, Respiratory, Circulatory, Immune and reproductive system is the study of Human Physiology. It focuses on how each system works in the body, including how the systems work together. It studies the function of a body in a well conditioned on a cellular level; how cells work together. Each system has a different role in the body; Circulatory system circulates oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, respiratory system brings oxygen in and carbon dioxide out, endocrine system produces hormones, Musculoskeletal system deals with movements, gastrointestinal system deals with digesting food and absorbing nutrients, nervous system controls the body and senses, Integumentary system is the skin, exocrine glands reproductive system is responsible for reproducing, renal system is responsible for filtering toxins from blood also maintain homeostasis of water, ions, pH, and blood pressure. Integumentary system is the hair, skin, nails, and sweat glands. Lymphatic and immune system share many organs. Immune system fights against disease and pathogens as well as fungi and bacteria. The lymphatic system produces white cells that help fight disease. The thymus produces T-cells which fight cancerous cells. Physiology focuses on the systems working correctly in the body while pathophysiology focuses on the way body systems develop and fight disease. Physiology's purpose is to see how the body looks when it runs smoothly, which helps aid in disease research when parts of the body go wrong. The study of physiology began over 2000 years ago by many such as Aristotle and Hippocrates. Early study was not as complex due to the lack of understanding cells. The lack of the understanding of cells also led to more focus on body systems.They had to wait before a person was dead before poking around inside. This often had systems in poor shape as systems had deteriorated from an ailment, so it was difficult to observe healthy systems. Today, there are many different ways to study various body systems. Most biologists focus on a certain system in the body. For example, the University of Maryland has faculty focusing on the Cardiovascular, Endocrinology, Genomics, Membrane, Neuroscience, and Reproductive. Each of these areas are worked by teams, focusing on different aspects within the system such as anatomy, cell communication, and molecular. System biology is difficult to define as it encompses so many fields. Scale of study is a factor as well as biological approach. During the early time of system biology, animals were often used to identify systems and trying to compare and connect them to human physiology which is still done today. Communication between each system occurs in many ways, which is an interesting area that is focused on. Some ways connections happen are through chemicals or electric impulses. Researching each systems has found how to maintain normal human health, which depends on all systems of the body. Many variables such as blood glucose, body temperature, blood chemistry, and many more are all physiological variables that have an impact on human health, Physiology is divided into plants and animals, which then animals is divided further. Physiology is a broad topic, but it does focus on how the body works which involves the systems. Studying systems often involves observations in labs and in the field. It is not a recital of facts, as every system is different in each organism in some way from mutations, environment, or disease. It is a cause and effect process.
Cancer can have many effects on multiple systems such as the Gastrointestinal System, Musculoskeletal, Endocrine, Lymphatic, Nervous, Respiratory, Circulatory, Immune, Renal, and reproductive systems. In the nervous system, cancer can develop in the brain and the spinal cord, which can cause death. 20 to 40 percent of all cancers develop in the brain. Cancer In the central nervous system offers poor chance at recovery unless it is detected fairly early. Cancer In the nervous system can cause: seizures, hearing/vision loss, speech difficulties, thought process changes, pain, and can change how other organs function such as unable to control urine flow. In 2009, 12,920 deaths were attributed to cancer in the central nervous system. Low grade tumors have been found to progress to grade 3 or 4, the time of progression depending on genetic makeup of said tumor. The cause of brain tumors is yet to be known. Not all primary brain tumors are cancerous. A tumor is a large collection of abnormal cells. These cells are supposed to die and be replaced, but a mutation or malfunction causes the cells to grow even when the body does not need them. Malignant tumors are cancerous while Benign are not. Malignant tumors often grow fast and can spread throughout the brain and nervous system. Cancer can also occur in the digestive system. Cancer can affect any of the gastrointestinal organs such as the colon, intestines, stomach, and more. The National Cancer Institute estimates 25% of all cancers occur in the digestive system. The cancer can spread to many areas such as the liver, pancreas, and esophagus. Each are is affected differently by cancer. Esophageal cancer develops in the inner layer cells and grows outward. Stomach cancer (also known as gastric cancer) occurs in the tissues of the stomach. Stomach cancer can occur anywhere in the organ. It can grow along the stomach wall to other organs such as the small intestine or esophagus, which can lead to more complications. It can spread even farther, spreading to lungs, ovaries, or the lymph node above the collarbone. About 90% of stomach cancer patients have adenocarcinoma. Curing it is possible if found early, but only if it has not spread past the stomach. Liver cancer is also found in the tissues of the liver. Primary liver cancer begins in the liver and is rare, it is more common for it to spread to the liver from another organ. Cancer in the liver can affect blood vessels and bile ducts. Pancreatic cancer can affect the pancreas’ ability to produce enzymes. The cancer can develop in the cells that secrete pancreatic juice or the cells that release hormones. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in men and women. It cannot be detected early as there are no tests to do so. Cancer in the lymphatic (also known as lymphoma) system can cause the immune system to malfunction which can prevent it from fighting disease. Enlarged lymph nodes can damage surrounding tissue. Lymphoma can also use up your body’s resources, making a person weaker. The effect of lymphoma depends on where the cancer occurs. Lymphoma in the spleen can cause it work more than it should, removing healthy blood cells from circulation which can lead to anaemia. In general, cancer cells grow and grow, causing damage to various systems by pushing and taking over healthy parts of the various systems.
Currently, many Universities and laboratories are working very hard to try to understand how and why we get cancer as well as trying to find a way to cure and prevent it. Since we have many different systems in our body, most cancer research is split into different areas. So far, more research has been placed in finding a cure and early detection as scientists have a basic understanding of cancer’s impact on various systems. Scientists have began finding how cancer affects the systems by looking at genetic history. Cancer Research UK was able to research and find faulty genes linked to meningioma, pilocytic astrocytoma, and ependymoma. They also found many genes that are responsible for breast cancer, such as BRCA2. UCLA recently had a study where researchers analyzed gene profiles of more than 2000 people. This led them to being able to identify cancer-specific signatures for multiple cancers such as breast, lung, prostate, and ovarian. Interestingly, it employed a new technique involving thermodynamics to understand the cellular processes of cancer. The technique is known as surprisal analysis and it allows scientists to see how cellular energy is expended in cancer cells. Specifically, it allowed scientists to look at how cancer cells decide to use energy when expressing critical genes that would allow them to grow. The benefit of this way to id cancer signatures is it allows scientists to distinguish biopsy from control samples. This leads to the identification to new biomarkers that will aid in early cancer detection. The American Cancer society has reached many milestone when it comes to cancer research. They have found that Diabetes and Insulin are linked to colorectal cancer. They have also focused on preventative measures in skin, breast, and lung cancers, all of which are part of different body systems. They have also researched treatment for these cancers.
Current research for treatment of cancer in the body systems has been very progressive. Many treatments are now available to patients with various types of cancers. In cancer in the nervous system, breakthroughs have allowed or various treatments if the cancer is caught early. Usually it involves radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. The National Cancer Institute is currently exploring new imaging technologies for diagnosis, treatment, and follow up care for central nervous system cancers. It should help surgeons and doctors see the tumor size and scale better before surgery and allow re-growing tumor tissue be distinguished from damage to brain tissue as a result of radiation therapy, which would reduce the need for follow up surgeries which will help the patient recover faster. The NCI also hopes to develop new ways of delivering drugs the the central nervous system that can also penetrate the blood-brain barrier. They also hope to research genetic changes that lead to the formation of tumors on the central nervous system. Tumor stem cells are also a focus for future research as the may drive tumor growth. Identifying and treating them can hopefully slow and stop growth. Breast cancer research has also found some new techniques to detect and fight it. Breast cancer affects the lymphatic system, more specifically the breast area. The cancer can harm the lymph nodes and causing cysts. The American Cancer Society has mentioned about a new lab test about tumor cells in blood. Through sensitive lab tests, these tumor cells in the blood stream can be detected and treated. Newer methods in radiation treatment are being researched, hoping to make treatment easier to obtain and faster to do. New drugs are also being developed to fight advanced cancer. A new drug class known as PARP inhibitors has been developed to target cancers caused by BRCA mutations. It has shown promise in clinical trials in treating a multitude of cancers: ovarian, breast, and prostate. Currently, it is being tested to see if it can help people without the BRCA mutation. A study also found that women with low Vitamin D levels were more likely to have their cancer come back and had a poorer outlook. This method needs more research, though. Other possible targets for new breast cancer drugs have been found in recent years. New drugs that target the HER2 protein have also been a target of researchers. Anti-angiogenesis drugs focus on the cancers need to have blood vessels feeding them. The drug should prevent blood vessels growing to the cancer, devoiding it of nutrients so it stops growing.
Here is a list of possible contacts to find more information about cancer in the system and the research behind it.
University of CA- Program Director (California Breast Cancer Research Program)
Marion H. Kavanaugh-Lynch
Phone: (510) 987-9878
Director for Breast Cancer Research in California
Antonio M. Omuro, MD
Focuses on patients with brain tumors
Neuro-oncology; Primary Brain Tumors, CNS Lymphoma (Brain and Spinal Cord)
Ross C Donehower, MD
Expertise is gastrointestinal cancer
More specifically (and of interest) Liver, Stomach, Small Intestine, and Pancreatic Cancers.
Gastrointestinal Cancers ; New Anticancer Drug Development ; Pharmacology Phone # 410-955-8964
Oliver W. Press
Patient Care Coordinator
Specializes in non-Hodgcan cancer in the lymphatic system
Nancy Press, Research Coordinator
206-667-1864, fax: 206-667-1874
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
1100 Fairview Ave. N, Mailstop D3-190
Seattle, WA 98109
Professor of Medicine
University of Washington
Charles S. Fuchs, MD, MPH
Office phone: 617-632-5840
Appointment phone: 877-332-4294
Director of Gastrointestinal Cancer Center, which could be a great source of info
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