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Understanding Cancer Series-Part18 (Microscopic Appearance of Cancer Cells)

Discussion in 'Oncology' started by waleed, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. waleed

    waleed Moderator

    Aug 12, 2011
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    Size and shape of the cells

    The overall size and shape of cancer cells are often abnormal. They may be either smaller or larger than normal cells. Normal cells often have certain shapes that help them better do their jobs. Cancer cells usually do not function in a useful way and their shapes are often distorted. Unlike normal cells that tend to have the same size and shape, cancer cells often are very different in their sizes and shapes.
    Size and shape of the cell's nucleus

    The size and shape of the nucleus of a cancer cell is often abnormal. The nucleus is the center of the cell that contains the cell's DNA. The nucleus is surrounded by cytoplasm. Some types of cells can be imagined as looking like a fried egg, in which the central yolk represents the nucleus and the surrounding white is the cytoplasm (this is only a way of imagining cells, and does not truly reflect what cells are made of). Cancer cells typically have a nucleus that is larger than that of a normal cell. And, like the overall cell size and shape, the size and shape of the cell nucleus is usually much the same among normal cells of each tissue, but can vary greatly among cancer cells. Another feature of the nucleus of a cancer cell is that after being stained with certain dyes, it looks darker when seen under a microscope. The nucleus from a cancer cell is larger and darker because it often contains too much DNA.
    Arrangement of the cells

    The arrangement of normal cells reflects the function of each tissue. For instance, cells can form glands that produce substances that are taken to other parts of the tissue. Gland tissue in the breast, ,which during breast-feeding can produce milk, is organized into lobules and ducts that carry milk from the lobules to the nipple. Cells of the stomach also form glands, to produce enzymes, acid, and mucus that digest the food and protect the stomach lining.

    When cancers develop in the breast, stomach, and many other tissues, the cancer cells do not form glands as they should. Sometimes the cancer cells form abnormal or distorted glands. Sometimes they form cell clumps that do not look like glands at all.

    Another feature that shows abnormal interactions by cancer cells is that cancer cells grow into (invade) other tissues. Normal cells stay where they belong within a tissue. The ability of cancer cells to invade reflects the fact that their growth and movement is not coordinated with their neighboring cells. This ability to invade is how cancer spreads to and damages nearby tissues. And, unlike normal cells, cancer cells can metastasize (spread through blood vessels or lymph vessels) to distant parts of the body, too. Knowing this helps doctors recognize cancers under a microscope, because finding cells where they don't belong is a useful clue that they might be cancer.


    source :American Cancer Society :: Information and Resources for Cancer: Breast, Colon, Prostate, Lung and Other Forms

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    Last edited: Oct 4, 2011

  2. rabab froja

    rabab froja Famous Member

    Jun 8, 2011
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    change on the cell shape is an indicate of a change on function... and this strange behave called cancer !!(N)

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