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Unit 3: How to Conquer Cancer
Lesson 1: Detecting Cancer Concepts:
1. Cancer is a term used for more than 100 different diseases in which cell regulation genes are
mutated causing the cells to reproduce out of control.
- Cancer cell characteristics: multinuclear, nuclear blebbing, abnormal size and shape.
- Normal cell characteristics: one nucleus, round cells, contact inhibition, replicative senescence.
- Proto-oncogenes (genes that could become cancerous), tumor suppressor genes (suppress tumors or
cancerous cells- signal for apoptosis), oncogenes (cancerous genes).
2. X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans are used to create pictures of the inside of the body to diagnose
and treat many disorders.
- X-rays: form of electromagnetic radiation (stream of photons) use to take images of dense tissue.
- CT scans: specialized X-ray that takes cross-sectional images of dense/hard tissue.
- MRI: use of radio waves and magnets to take images of soft tissue.
- Bone scans: use of radioactive tracers to produce images of bones and surrounding tissue.
- All noninvasive, all but MRIs give off radiation.
3. DNA microarrays measure the amount of mRNA for genes that is present in a cell sample.
- Goal: to determine which genes are “turned on” and “turned off”- gene expression.
- Results: Red means cancer cell expression; green means healthy cell expression; yellow means both are
expressed; black means neither are expressed.
- Technology: DNA-> mRNA (present in high levels during protein production)-> binds to cDNA on the
microarray trays.
4. Scientists use DNA microarray technology to determine the differences in gene expression between
different tissue samples.
5. Scientists calculate the similarities of gene expression patterns between different individuals using
statistical analysis.
- Correlational coefficients: if the value is close to zero (little to no correlation); close to +1 (gene expression is
similar); close to -1 (gene expression is opposite).
Lesson 2: Reducing Cancer Risk Concepts:
1. Behavioral, biological, environmental, and genetic risk factors increase the chance that a person will
develop cancer.
- Behavioral: smoking, diet, use of sunscreen, alcohol, tanning bed.
- Biological: age, race, gender.
- Environmental: pollution, radiation, second hand smoke.
- Genetic: faulty genes (examples BRCA1&2).
2. The risk for developing many cancers can be reduced with life-style changes.
3. Molecular diagnostic tests, such as marker analysis, can be used to detect inherited genetic
mutations associated with certain cancers and can be used to predict risk for developing those
- Used with BRCA1&2; used STRs or microsatellites to identify genes (repeating sequences next to a gene of
interest and it is the number of repeats that determines the gene present); analyze with gel electrophoresis.
4. Viruses insert their DNA or RNA into a host cell, causing the host cell’s genes to mutate which can
sometimes cause the cell to become cancerous.
- Examples: HPV & cervical cancer; hepatitis B and C & liver infections/cancer; Epstein-Barr &
5. Routine cancer screenings can prevent certain types of cancer or can increase the chance that
cancer is detected at an early stage when treatment is more effective.
- Examples: mammograms for breast cancer, prostate exams, colonoscopy, pap tests.
Lesson 3: Treating Cancer Concepts:
1. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are cancer treatments that work to destroy cancer cells by
stopping or slowing their growth; both treatments can cause negative side effects to the patient.
- Characteristics of Chemotherapy: chemical treatment injected via IV to kill cancerous or fast growing cells in
the entire body.
- Characteristics of Radiation: exposure of specific area of the body to a beam of radiation to kill cancer cells;
internal or external treatment (localized).
2. Biofeedback therapy is a technique in which patients are trained to improve their health or manage
pain by learning to control certain internal bodily processes that normally occur involuntarily, such as
heart rate, respiration rate, and skin temperature.
- Examples: belly breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, yoga, meditation.
3. Artificial limbs are built to allow patients who have suffered from the loss of a limb to regain lost
4. Advances in technology are allowing the development of artificial limbs that look and move more
like actual human limbs.
- Myoelectric.
5. Physical and occupational therapists work to help patients with disabilities or patients recovering
from surgery or injury, restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and improve the ability to
perform the tasks necessary to lead an independent and productive life.
- Physical therapist: muscle strengthening and flexibility.
- Occupational therapist: everyday tasks, normal independent functioning.
Lesson 4: Building a Better Cancer Treatment Concepts:
1. All drugs do not act the same way for all individuals.
2. SNPs can cause changes in enzymes that metabolize certain drugs in the body.
3. The field of pharmocogenetics investigates how genetic variations correlate with responses to
specific medication and strives to develop medical treatments tailored to the individual.
4. Clinical trials are regulated by strict guidelines that ensure data collected is valid and human
subjects are treated ethically.
- Types: open trial; double blind, randomized; orphan drug trials, crossover trials.
- DBR: No bias (experimenter and the subject do not know who is assigned to the treatment group and who is
assigned to the placebo group).
5. Nanomedicine shows great promise, particularly for cancer research, in the hope that medical
interventions can be developed at the cellular and molecular scale to diagnose and treat disease.
- Nanotechnology examples: carbon nanotubes, nanosponge, respirosites.