Cell Communication: Pancreatic Cancer Madison Clayton

Introduction of Cellular Communication

Just like people, cells have to communicate with each other to get things done. Although, unlike people cells don't use verbal communication. Cells have four different types of ways to communicate; autocrine, juxtacrine, paracrine, and endocrine. Autocrine communication is when a cell secretes a hormone that binds to it's autocrine receptor causing a response within that cell. Juxtacrine communication is when communication occurs through the direct contact between cells. Paracrine is communication between cells across a small distance without direct contact. Endocrine is communication over a larger distance that travels through the bloodstream. The basic steps of cell communication are similar through all types. First, the first messenger (ligand) molecule is released, which produces the second messenger molecule (calium or cylic AMP). This molecule then starts the cascade of reactions that will eventually cause the needed response.

Pancreatic Cancer: Cause

The pancreas is an organ behind the stomach that has an important role in both the digestive and endocrine system. For the digestive system, the pancreas is responsible for creating enzymes that are sent to the intestines to assist in breaking down food. The endocrine system is also responsible for secreting hormones that regulate blood glucose levels. This organ becomes cancerous when malignant cells begin covering the pancreas' tissue. The cause of this cancer is not definite, but there has been connections to gene mutations. Many of these gene mutations are acquired rather than inherited, which would come from environmental and life style factors (smoking and obesity). These include gene p16 and TP53. There are also a few single gene mutations that cause the disease as well that are inherited, such as the K-RAS gene. When there is a mutation on this gene the G protein reception is interrupted causing normal cell growth to turn into tumor growth.

Pancreatic Cancer: Signs and Symptoms

Unfortunately with pancreatic cancer, the disease usually goes undetected until it becomes advanced to where the tumors start growing outside of the pancreas. When the cancer is located at the head of the pancreas symptoms include weight loss, yellowing of the skin, dark colored urine, itching, vomiting, abdomen pain, and inflamed lymph nodes. Pancreatic cancer of the tail or body of the pancreas causes pain of the abdomen and stomach as well as weight loss. In all forms of pancreatic cancer you will also have unbalanced blood sugar levels. In rare instances this cancer can also cause a change of taste and a loss of appetite.

Pancreatic Cancer: Treatment

Just like all cancers treatment options depend on how far along the cancer is when it is diagnosed. In the instance that the tumors where found in their early stages there is possibility that they can be removed. Although there is possibility for curing the cancer this way there is always a possibility that they will come back. In the unfortunate instance that the cancer isn't found until it has progressed to other parts of the body surgery is not an option. In these instances one option is ablation treatment, which is the use of radio waves to put the tumors under extreme heat that kills them. Another option is embolization treatment, which is an injection that blocks the blood flow to the tumor. Most commonly chemotherapy is used to shrink or even kill the tumors. Chemotherapy can be used before surgery to shrink tumors or can be used without surgery to improve a patients lifespan. In some occasions pancreatic cancer can be treated, but for the majority treatment is just a way to increase a patients time before the inevitable.

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Madison Clayton
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