The Use of Telomerase in Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Treatment of Cancer: With a Special Look at Breast Cancer

Essay by hfctorchCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 2006

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Cancer is a common word in the health field. It is important to understand that cancer is due to gene mutations and often involves uncontrolled cell growth. Telomeres are base pair sequences found at the end of chromosomes and are known to shorten after subsequent cell divisions. Telomerase is an enzyme able to add to telomeres, thus increasing their lengths. Telomerase is found naturally in specific cells, but is also found commonly in cancer. Telomerase being found in cancer provides a means by which cancer can be better studied. Because not all cancers are exactly alike, breast cancer is looked at specifically and it has been found that telomerase provides a means by which diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment can all be aided by use of telomerase. Research has provided a hope at the fight of breast cancer by using knowledge of telomerase, but this research has lead to other unknowns in telomerase.

The conclusion, though, is that the study of telomerase is a very worthwhile and promising area of research.


In order to fully understand the means by which cancer cells age, it is vital to first identify the basics of what is meant by the term cancer, how cancer develops, and why it develops. Cancer, in general, refers to uncontrolled cell growth in the body. This uncontrolled growth often leads to spreading of those cells (American Cancer Society 2006). The development of this cell growth is due to mutations within the genetic code of the cell. A mutation in the genetic code is simply a change in the sequence of base pairs in the copy of DNA from the original DNA. Mutations are not always bad, and are a significant source for genetic variation, but the combination of one or more mutations can lead to irregular...