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How Does Cancer Evade Your Immune System? — an article on the Smart Living Network
May 2, 2008 at 11:41 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

How Does Cancer Evade Your Immune System?

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The exact mechanisms for how cancer evades the immune system are unknown. There are several theories and ideas as to how cancer manages immune system evasion, but research continues in this particular subject area. There are many types of cancer, typically named by the particular system or organ the cancer invades.

Cancer Cells

All types of cancer are developed from circumstances when the immune system failed to recognize and eliminate mutant cells that become cancerous. Cancerous cells are definitely foreign to the body, and therefore should be destroyed. A healthy immune system is responsible for the destruction of thousands of mutated cells on a daily basis. If the immune system does not destroy foreign mutated cells, the multiplication of these cells can lead to the development of cancer.

Your Immune System and Cancer Detection

While the exact mechanisms remain unknown, cancer research is performed world wide. The abnormal cancer cells appear normal to the immune system. It is thought that the outer appearance of cancer cells similarly resemble those of normal cells, making it difficult for the immune system to recognize. Additionally, while the cancerous cells are abnormal, they are made within the body of the tissues present. While the outside of the cancer cells may resemble healthy cells the inside of cancerous cells are hard at work, multiplying at enhanced rates that are uncontrolled. This is how a tumor forms. It is completely possible for a tumor to form even with the proper functioning of the immune system. Eventually, the tumor will grow large enough that the immune system will detect it, although at this point the cancer is usually too advanced for the immune system alone to overcome the disease.

Cancer Treatment Options

There is no cure for cancer that works 100% of the time. However, individuals have been cured. The common methods for treatment of cancer include:

  • Immune growth factors: This medication stimulates the production of immune cells. More immune cells mean an increase in immunological function.
  • Antibody Medications: Synthetically produced antibodies are produced to target antigens specific to cancer cells.
  • Vaccinations: Certain vaccinations stimulate immune system function
  • Surgery: Removal of the cancerous growth
  • Anti-Angiogenesis Therapy: Starves the cancerous cells of blood supply
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation

Chemotherapy and Radiation Treatments

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments successfully destroy many cancerous cells, in addition to many healthy cells responsible for the maintenance and regulation of the immune system. Due to the fact that these cells are also killed, chemotherapy and radiation treatments are strongly associated with further decreases in immune system function.

Blood Count of Immune Cells

Typically, blood counts are used to determine the amounts of immune cells present. There exist standard numbers for the presence of these cells, which can be used for comparison when an individual is undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Chemotherapy is responsible for drastic changes in the counts However there are certain transfusions of blood and bone marrow that are possible for immediate increases. It is also possible to be given growth factors that speed up the production of immune cells.

Sources:

http://www.breastcancer.org/tips/immune/cancer.jsp

http://www.breastcancer.org/tips/immune/protect.jsp

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