The Difference Between Cancerous and Healthy Cells

The Difference Between Cancerous and Healthy Cells

Cancer — whether it’s said on TV or by your coworker, it’s a word we hear almost every day. And while cancer awareness is at an all-time high, many people don’t truly understand what cancer is or how it affects your cells.

What is Cancer?

Cancer is a broad term that describes more than 200 diseases. While each disease is unique and requires a different treatment plan, all cancers involve the unhealthy division of cells. As these abnormal cells divide, they destroy surrounding healthy tissue in the body.

Learning the Difference: Healthy Cells vs. Cancerous Cells

They may not look different to the naked eye, but under a microscope healthy and cancerous cells look and act very differently.

  • Appearance: If you were to look at healthy cells under a microscope, you’d find that they’re all the same shape, size, and coloring. Cancer cells will vary in size and shape, often appearing with abnormal borders and a nucleus (the “brain of a cell”) that’s large and dark.
  • Growth: Healthy cells divide until there are enough; then they know to stop reproducing. Cancer cells, however, never know when to stop splitting, so they will continue to produce new cells even when they’re not needed.
  • The ability to spread (metastasize): Most cells are not interchangeable, meaning they need to stay in “their part of the body.” In a healthy lung, you should find lung cells, in a heart you should find heart cells, and so on. However cancerous cells tend to travel throughout your body. If a woman’s breast cancer has metastasized, it means it has spread to other cells in her body.
  • The effect on your immune system: If a healthy cell gets damaged, your immune system responds by removing it. However, cancerous cells are able to evade detection for long periods of time. They can also emit chemicals that inactivate healthy immune cells that come to the area.

Beverly Oncology & Imaging offers state-of-the-art medical technology with greater convenience than hospitals can offer. We are leaders in our field, using cutting-edge technology like Rotating Gamma Technology™,External Beam therapy, and brachytherapy. Contact us today to discuss treatment options or to make an appointment.

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