Cancer Risk Factors

posted Jan 4, 2012, 9:45 AM by Unknown user
Continuum Care

Cancer Insights

Nature of Cancer jpg

Risk Factos
Next Featured Article:
"Health Restoration & Quality of Life"


Hospice is a special kind of caring. Hospice care involves a team oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management and emotional and spiritual support, expressly tailored to the patient's needs and wishes. Support is extended to the patient's loved ones as well.


This approach is what Continuum Care is all about.  Our goal at CCI is to provide care to the terminally ill at home, in a supportive environment in which the patient is alert, free of pain and, along with those that he or she has chosen, makes the decisions regarding care. We are dedicated to making their end-of-life as comfortable and dignified as possible. To date, we have provided end-of-life care to over 1500 patients and their families, many of whom were able to return home from the mainland to be with their loved ones.


At the center of hospice is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so. The focus is on caring, not curing.  Hospice is dedicated to making that possible.


Hospice services are available to those who can no longer benefit from curative treatment or to those who decide not to pursue or continue treatment. Most hospice patients have a life expectancy of six months and receive their care at their residence.

Best of the Virgin Islands 
Continuum Care Virgin Islands
"A Special kind of Caring"  


Risk Factos



A person is made up of organs (brain, heart, lungs, etc...); organs are made up of specialized tissue; and tissue is comprised of specialized cells specific to that tissue and organ. The cells that make up the various organs in a person are the basic microscopic units which function as specialized entities to do the work of the organ to which it belongs. (For example, a lung cell works for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.  A liver cell specializes in detoxifying various metabolites. A kidney cell takes part in an efficient filtration system regulating the excretion and retention of water and electrolytes in order to maintain the proper hydration and acid/ base balance needed for the life of the body.)  Way back in the line of development, these specialized cells originate from stem cells.

There are different types of stem cells but they all share a few common traits.  Two of the most common stem cell traits are, to varying degrees, stem cells have the ability to self -renew for an indefinite amount of time, and, all stem cells can begin the process of undergoing cell division and multiplication (mitosis) wherein each division produces a more specialized (differentiated) cell. 


Three types of stem cells are totipotent stem cells, pluripotent stem cells, and, multipotent stem cells.    The totipotent stem cell is the most versatile of the three.  They have total potential because they are totally uncommitted, and therefore can give rise to any kind of cell.  Additionally, they are the only type of stem cell that can give rise to not only a specialized cell, but also an entire organism.   Totipotent cells are seen in the earliest of embryonic setting, (for the first four days after the sperm and egg have united).   After that period totipotent stem cells then give rise to the pluripotent stem cell.

A pluripotent stem cell is slightly more mature and committed than the totipotent cell, but still has vast potential power.  It cannot differentiate (develop) into a complete organism (as can the totipotent stem cell), but it can differentiate into almost any cell of the body. 

The multipotent stem cell has less potential than the above two stem cells, since the multipotent stem cell is slightly more mature (specialized) and is committed to a certain group of cells.  For example, the multipotent stem cell may be a bloodline stem cell, whereby it could develop into any one of the many kinds of white blood cells, or platelets, or  red blood cells; but, if it were a bloodline stem cell, it couldn't also develop into cells of  another type of organ (as can the pluripotent and totipotent stem cells).

Being primitive, immature, and undifferentiated (undeveloped or unspecialized), and as such  uncommitted, stem cells  can  develop (or "differentiate")  into different types of cell, by undergoing many divisions and multiplications, each time becoming more specialized.  Stem cell activity is carefully regulated by the body, and therefore normal stem cells act only in response to certain signals given by the body.  For instance, should a person start to hemorrhage and suddenly need new blood cells, hematopoetic (blood) stem cells will begin to divide and multiply into the appropriate cells needed. 


And then there is the cancer stem cell.... 



Focus on Living

 When cancer strikes, often the initial reaction is disbelief, confusion, and fear.  Additionally, one is suddenly bombarded with new responsibilities, and seemingly overwhelming medical schedules.  In that setting, it is difficult to absorb helpful information, or to envision a happy outcome.  However, such an outcome is not only possible, but often probable. 

Arming oneself with an arsenal of pertinent information can literally be the difference between life and death, between sickness and health, and, between despair and a happy, productive life.  The optimum time to acquire the information is before cancer is even in one's horizon.  This opportunity though, is not always possible.  Since it is never too late to add to one's repertoire of helpful information, Continuum Care Newsletter will now offer, for the following four months, a monthly section entitled "Cancer Insights".


Topics covered in "Cancer Insights" will range from understanding what cancer is, and its various types of treatment, to preventing or managing chemotherapy side effects.  Information will also be given on recognizing Oncological (cancer) emergencies, and when to call the doctor. The goal of this series is to improve one's quality of life through knowledge.  "Cancer Insights" is geared not only to the person confronted with cancer, but also to their families, loved ones, and caregivers.


In keeping with its philosophy of bringing comfort, dignity and the highest quality of life possible, Continuum Care hopes that the information gleaned from the four Cancer Insights articles will meet that goal by enriching one's life during the cancer experience.  Look for the next article to explore the nature of cancer and its varying treatments. 


-Gwendolyn Skeoch

Gwen Skeoch Bio