Unit Overview: Cancer Basics

Cancer Basics

Before we can dive into treatment options it's important that you understand the basics of how cancer develops, grows, and spreads.

Without this foundation it's difficult to understand the science behind the treatment options you’ll be offered and the difference between standard care and the latest advances in medical science. In this unit we’ll give you the information you need to understand the role of DNA and stem cells in the development of cancer.

Cancer, at its most basic level, is a disease caused by genetic mutations and all cancers originate in stem cells. Traditional treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation, target all rapidly growing cells and fail to treat dormant cancer causing stem cells. This is a problem because if these stem cells are not treated, when they are active again they will create more cancerous cells. Newer treatments, like targeted therapies, specifically target the stem cells that cause cancer, even dormant stem cells, treating your cancer at the source. 

Dividing breast cancer cell.
Source: National Cancer Institute & University of Pittsburgh

In this unit we'll cover the fundamentals of cancer so you can understand the science of your treatments and care. We’ll cover what DNA and stem cells are, the normal function of DNA mutation, and how these mutations differ from Cancerous mutations. This information is key to understanding the difference between standard treatments and advanced treatments, the role of stem cells in particular.

Our peer support team will share their experience with DNA testing, and exercise and nutrition for supporting your body as it fights cancer, and what they wish they knew about Genetic testing when first diagnosed. As always make sure you watch the peer support videos. Much of this information can seem abstract but they will help you understand how it applies to your life or that of a loved one

If you have any questions please drop them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer them.

Transcript - Cancer Basics - Intro.pdf
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