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? asked in HealthDiseases & ConditionsCancer · 7 months ago

How would explain cancer to someone who doesn't know what a cell is?

In your own words, how would you explain the process of cancer formation by substituting "cells, genes, mutation" etc in your own simple words

3 Answers

  • 7 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    This sounds like a homework question.

    I explain cancer to children every day.  Younger children don't know what cells are, so I teach them.  I can't think of any situation that would occur when I would not use the word cells.

    I explain that our bodies are made up of tiny building blocks called cells.  They're kind of like Legos; on their own, just a block, but come together to make something, like how Legos come together to make a spaceship or a robot.  Our skin cells come together to make our skin.  Our muscle cells come together to make our muscles so we can run and jump... and so on.  Sometimes, there are cells that aren't supposed to be there.  These cells are called cancer cells (except I usually say the name of the cancer.)  They don't have a job to do, and the only get in the way of the other cells doing their jobs.  Sometimes, these cells clump together to form a big lump called a tumor.  Sometimes, these cells are all through the blood.  We know that we need to get rid of these cells, and we know we can do that with special medicines called chemotherapy (or special energy rays called radiation... or surgery... or a combination.

    If someone does not understand what cells are, there's no reason to get into an explanation of genes and mutations.  When I do talk about mutations, I talk about what makes a cell, and how something went wrong in a cell to make it not work like others (the mutation.)

    It's important to use correct terminology in order to avoid misconceptions.  For example, many people tend to call cancer germs or bugs when talking to children.  Both are wrong and can cause children to get the wrong idea about what is actually inside of them.  So I always name the cancer.  I never call the cancer cells bad, because we already work hard to ensure kids understand they didn't cause this, that their cancer is not their fault, and we try to take that connotation away.  Developmentally, the majority of preschoolers and younger school age children will wonder if they caused it (by not listening to parents, not eating vegetables, being mean to a sibling, etc.)  This is normal, but it's important to help them realize that it's not the case.

  • LAN
    Lv 7
    7 months ago

    The only person that couldn't understand is someone very young or terminally stupid.  In both cases you just say someone is very sick and let it go at that.

  • 7 months ago

    A spreading harmful snd lethal  organism 

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