The key difference between cancer cells and normal cells is that the cancer cells divide uncontrollably while normal cells divide in an orderly manner.
Normal cells divide in an orderly way to produce more cells only when the body needs them. Thus, it is a normal process of cell division that is essential for the growth, development and repair of the body. On the other hand, cancer cells are a type of abnormal cells that divide and produce a mass of cells without control or order. Likewise, when a cell divides relentlessly, it creates a tumor or an unwanted mass of cells if there is no requirement for those cells for the growth or replacement. Accordingly, there are two types of tumors such as benign tumor and malignant tumor. Benign tumors are not cancerous, but malignant tumors are cancerous.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Cancer Cells
3. What are Normal Cells
4. Similarities Between Cancer Cells and Normal Cells
5. Side by Side Comparison – Cancer Cells vs Normal Cells in Tabular Form
What are Cancer Cells?
Cancer cells are those cells that are abnormal. In simple words, they are damaged cells or mutated cells. Once normal cells become abnormal, they are capable of dividing and growing immensely to damage other cells as well. Cancer cells differ from normal cells in different ways. Especially their growth will not be like the normal cells (will less or more). Furthermore, cancer cells tend to multiply incorrectly, and they tend to spread to a wide area. Moreover, these cells lose the immunity power of normal cells.
The cancer can be classified into three different grades namely grade 1, 2 and 3. Grade 1 is when cancer cells look alike like normal cells. In other words, they are slow growing cells which don’t show many symptoms of a cancer infection. If the cancer infection is identified in this grade 1, it can be cured. Grade 1 cancer is a cancer which is in the early stage.
Grade 2 is when the cancer cells start to appear differently from normal cells. These are fast-growing cells and are in the growing stage. By taking proper treatment at this stage, it is possible to cure the disease. A cancer if unidentified in grade 2 could be termed as a stage where the hope of curing is less or rare. Grade 3 is when cancer cells are found to be immensely growing and are in the final stages of growth. That is when the patient feels the pain in the parts of the body where cancer cells are grown. The pain will be severe and uncontrollable.
There are different types of cancers according to the part of the body infected with cancer. Accordingly, adenocarcinoma is a cancer in a gland while leiomyosarcoma is a cancer in the muscle cells. Similarly, neurosarcoma is a cancer in the nerve cells while liposarcoma is a cancer in the fat cells.
What happens when a Cell grows out of control?
Cell growth can be classified into a benign and malignant growth. At times, cells start to grow without balancing the normal growth between cell death and growth and a small and harmless lump of cells are formed. It is called a benign tumor, and this tumor is not cancerous. Furthermore, this tumor can grow into any part of the human body; it could be intestine, the prostate or even the skin. They do not invade nearby tissues nor spread to other parts of the body. They can be removed and are not a threat to life.
Unlike normal cells, when a malignant cell grows and divides itself regardless of the needs and limitations of one’s body, it grows in abundance. These cells with such aggressive behaviours are the malignant cells, and the excess growth is called a malignant tumor. Malignant tumors are cancerous. They can grow in different parts of the body and eventually overwhelm and destroy that part or the organs of the body. They invade and damage nearby tissues and organs, and they can break away and enter the bloodstream to form new tumors in other parts of the body.
What are Normal Cells?
Cell is the basic unit of living organisms. Cells grow and divide and produce new cells. Accordingly, a cell has a life cycle. During that lifecycle, various cellular processes occur associating the cell nucleus and cell organelles. Therefore, the amount of normal cells is more in balance to produce a more normal level of activity. These are useful cells that have a built-in blood vessel system and produce immunity and empower the human body.
Likewise, normal cells carry out normal functions that they are assigned. Furthermore, normal cells communicate with other cells. However, they do not travel along with the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. They stay in the area where they belong.
What are the Similarities Between Cancer Cells and Normal Cells?
- Both cancer cells and normal cells are living cells.
- They are able to grow, divide and die.
- Also, both types of cells contain nucleus and cell organelles.
What is the Difference Between Cancer Cells and Normal Cells?
Cancer cells are abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably. On the other hand, normal cells are healthy cells that undergo normal cell division process, and when needed they stop dividing. This is the key difference between cancer cells and normal cells. Furthermore, another difference between cancer cells and normal cells is that the cancer cells do not have a definite shape and size, unlike normal cells.
Moreover, cancer cells do not mature and carry out assigned functions. This is also a difference between cancer cells and normal cells. Also, cancer cells are able to metastasis and evade the immune system, unlike normal cells. Therefore, we can consider this also as a difference between cancer cells and normal cells.
Below inforgraphic on the difference between cancer cells and normal cells shows more difference between both.
Summary – Cancer Cells vs Normal Cells
Normal cells undergo normal cell division process which occurs under a cellular control. Hence, normal cells stop dividing when there is no requirement for producing new cells. On the other hand, cancer cells are a type of abnormal cells that divide relentlessly without control. Hence they do not stop dividing. Thus, this uncontrollable cell division leads to the development of a tumor or cancer. Cancer cells do not mature or carry out functions, unlike normal cells. Furthermore, cancer cells can metastasis, unlike normal cells. This is the summary of the difference between cancer cells and normal cells.
1. Nature News, Nature Publishing Group. Available here
1.”Breast cancer cells”By Dr. Cecil Fox (Photographer) – National Cancer Institute, an agency part of the National Institutes of Health, (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2.”Normal and cancer cells structure”By Pat Kenny – National Cancer Institute, an agency part of the National Institutes of Health, (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia