The human body possesses numerous forms of checks and balances. The immune system plays a major role in maintaining that equilibrium. One of its roles is to evaluate human cells’ surfaces by tasting cell surfaces by way of antigens exposed on the outside of cells. The immune system is then able to identify these tastes as “family” or “foreign." Cells can be identified as foreign to regions of the body, or to the human body altogether. Further checks and balances can communicate with cells to regulate cellular growth and division. When human cells significantly deviate from protocol, a signal is communicated to the cell to initiate cell death.
But, when mutations occur, certain cells may possess unique abilities to evade the immune system. Three specific traits a cancer cell will likely possess are:
- The ability to be viewed by the immune system as non-foreign.
- The ability to grow and divide regardless of inhibitory signals from the immune system.
- The ability to defy messages from the immune system that signal cell death.
Cancers are not all equally aggressive in nature. Some may have other unique mutations allowing for slow or more aggressive growth, and other mutations permitting them to spread to other regions of the human body.