Free Cancer Report

Know Your Cancer

Overview of Cancer Symptoms

Cancer is a collection of diseases formed due to the uncontrolled growth and division of human cells and tissues. Cancer is the second leading cause of deaths worldwide after ischaemic heart disease, responsible for one in six deaths occurring globally. These high numbers are often because the public not being aware of cancer symptoms properly. Cancer symptoms are usually not very profound, leading to most people ignoring it until the cancer reaches a later stage where treatment prognosis is poor. In this article, we will deal with the cancer symptoms of different types of cancer.
Cancer can cause almost any sign or symptoms. The cancer symptoms rely on where the cancer is, how big it is, and how much it affects the tissues or organs. Sometimes, only when a cancer has spread (metastasized), tissues in the body display cancer symptoms.
Cancer often starts in places where it will not cause any signs or symptoms until it has grown significantly. For example, pancreatic cancers generally do not cause health issues until they develop large enough to press on nearby nerves or organs (this triggers back Pain or abdominal pain). Some can spread across the bile duct, blocking the bile flow. This results in yellowness of the skin and eyes (jaundice). By the time, a Pancreatic Cancer is diagnosed it is usually in an elevated level causing such signs or symptoms. This implies that it has grown and spread beyond the place it began.
It is important to note that symptoms are helpful for us since treatments work best when cancer is found early, and if we understand the symptoms early, we can start the treatment early. Most cancer symptoms can be due to other health issues and even benign tumors, but it is always vital to be aware of the signs and get it checked when any symptoms arise to reduce the risk.

Common cancer symptoms associated with most cancer types

There are some cancer symptoms that are commonly associated with most cancer types. These are:

Unexplained weight loss:

According to the American Cancer Society, unexplained weight loss is one of the first symptoms of cancer, but it often goes unnoticed. In fact, 40% of cancer patients say they had unexplained weight loss before being diagnosed with cancer. The main reason people ignore unexplainable weight loss or why they don't connect it with cancer is because weight loss can also be due to various other reasons. Most weight loss cases are not caused by cancer, but losing more than 5 percent of your body weight within 6-12 months calls for a checkup with a doctor.

Loss of appetite:

Loss of appetite happens when you eat less than usual, doesn't feel hungry, or feel full after eating just a small amount of food. While a loss of appetite can be caused due to several conditions such as depression, tuberculosis, or even the common cold, it is always better to check with a doctor if it persists for a more extended period. Loss of appetite is most common in ovarian, lung, stomach, pancreatic, or intestinal cancer cases where patients feel like their stomachs are filled after taking very little food. The loss of appetite can lead to other conditions such as weight loss and excessive Fatigue.

Feeling exhausted or excessive fatigue:

While it is normal to be tired when you have a busy schedule or lack of proper sleep, it is a cause of concern if the exhaustion doesn't recede even after getting enough rest and sleep. Likewise, if you find that you get tired too quickly while doing activities that you could easily complete earlier, it may be a sign that something is wrong. Excessive Fatigue is a symptom of cancer since the abnormal growth of cancer cells use up all the energy of our body. This causes a deficiency of energy and nutrients for normal body functions, resulting in excessive Fatigue. While cancer is not the only cause of extreme fatigue, it is always better to get it checked by a doctor if it persists for a longer time.

Few other general signs and cancer symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Changes in the skin
  • Change in bowel habits or urinary function
  • Sores not healing
  • White patches on the tongue within the mouth or white patches
  • Unexpected bleeding or discharge
  • Thickening or lumping in the breast or other parts of the body
  • Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
  • Persistent cough or hoarse voice

What are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is the cancer that occurs in the cells of breasts. Men and women can both become potential Breast Cancer victims, but it is rarely seen in men. The survival rate of Breast Cancer patients has substantially increased due to many factors, including early detection of breast cancer, advanced treatment approaches, and comprehensive research for thoroughly analyzing and determining the disease.

The standard Breast Cancer symptoms are:

  • Formation of a lump or thickening of the breast
  • Strangely inverted nipple
  • Change in appearance, shape, and size of the breast
  • Dimpling, redness, and itchiness in breast skin
  • Purple discoloration on the breast
  • Scaling, peeling, flaking, or crushing of the breast skin

What are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer is the type of cancer that begins in the large intestine (the colon). It is commonly seen in older adults and usually begins as a non-cancerous polyp, which may become cancerous over time. Colon Cancer is also mentioned as colorectal cancer, a term that combines Colon Cancer and Rectal Cancer.

The common Colon Cancer symptoms are:

  • Blood in stool
  • Abdominal discomfort such as cramps
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Diarrhea and Constipation
  • Feeling that bowel has not completely emptied

What are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is the type of cancer that begins in the prostate gland, a small walnut-shaped gland located next to the bladder. Prostrate plays a vital role in producing the fluid for semen—the fluid present in the prostate transfers to the urethra in the process of ejaculation. This is a common type of cancer, with about 1 in 9 men calculated to be diagnosed with it during their lifetime and the second most cause of cancer death in men.

The common Prostate Cancer symptoms are:

  • Pain or burning sensation during urinating
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Pain during ejaculation
  • Discomfort in the lower pelvic area
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Less force in the urine stream

What are the Symptoms of Stomach Cancer?

Stomach cancer is the type of cancer that begins in any of the three main parts of the stomach; cardia, fundus, and pylorus. The cancer usually begins in the mucus-producing cells that line the stomach. Also called gastric cancer, this is a prevalent type of cancer in India and affects men more than women.

The typical Stomach Cancer symptoms are:

  • Sense of fullness, even after a small meal
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Swelling or bloating of the abdomen
  • Pain in stomach
  • Indigestion
  • Black-colored feces

What are the Symptoms of Liver Cancer?

Liver cancer begins in the liver, a football-shaped organ situated in the abdomen's upper right quadrant, just under the ribs. The liver is the body's largest glandular organ and performs numerous vital functions to keep the body free from toxins.

The usual Liver Cancer symptoms are:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Yellowing of skin and eyes
  • Swollen belly veins that are visible through the skin
  • White, chalky stools
  • Enlarged liver or spleen
  • Abdominal swelling or fluid build up

What are the Symptoms of Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of cancerous cells in the outermost layer of skin(epidermis). Skin Cancer mostly occurs on the surface skin majorly exposed to the sun, but it is also recorded to happen in unexposed areas. The primary cause of Skin Cancer is harmful sunlight, which causes a mutation in the DNA leading to unrepaired DNA damage. There are mainly three types of Skin Cancer - basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

The general Skin Cancer symptoms are:

  • A new mole, unusual growth, or dark spots that won't go away.
  • Spots on skins with unusual colors like white, red, pink, black, or blue
  • Lesions with ragged or uneven borders
  • Spots with diameter more than one-quarter inch, and growing.
  • A painful lesion that burns or itches
  • A bleeding sore that heals and returns

The specific symptoms of the cancer types are:

Basal cell carcinoma

: Basal cell carcinoma(BCC) is the least dangerous type of skin cancer, but it is also the most common Skin Cancer type. It generally occurs on the sun-exposed areas such as the upper torso, neck, and head. Fair-skinned people are more likely to develop Basal cell carcinoma. If not properly diagnosed, BCC can grow deep and penetrate the nerves and bones.

The typical basal cell carcinoma symptoms are:

  • Waxy or pearly bump
  • Flesh-colored lesion
  • Bleeding sore that continuously heals and returns

Squamous cell carcinoma

: Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common Skin Cancer type. It is not as dangerous as melanoma but can spread to other body parts if not treated properly. SCC forms mostly on the skin that is frequently exposed to the sun, like the face, neck, arms, ears, and back. SCC accounts for approximately 20% of the total number of Skin Cancer cases.

The typical squamous cell carcinoma symptoms include:

  • A red, firm nodule on the skin
  • A new sore or raised area on an old ulcer
  • Red sore or patch inside the mouth
  • Flat sore with a rough and scaly crust
  • Rough patch on the lip that may evolve to an open sore

What are the Symptoms of Melanoma Cancer?

Melanoma is the most severe Skin Cancer and tends to spread very quickly. If proper Skin Cancer treatment is not provided, melanoma can become life-threatening in six weeks. Mostly, it develops within a mole already present on the skin. It can be of more than one color and has an uneven smudgy outline.

The common melanoma symptoms are:

  • A painful lesion that burns or itches
  • A brownish patch with dark spots
  • A small lesion with an irregular border and maybe in red, white, blue, or pink color
  • Dark lesions on palms, soles, fingertips, or toes
  • .
  • Lesions on the lining of mouth, nose, vagina, or anus
  • A mole that bleeds or changes in color, size, or feel

What are the Symptoms of Head & Neck Cancer?

Head and neck cancers collectively refer to cancers that can affect parts of the head, the nose, the throat, and the mouth. It begins by affecting these organs' mucosal surfaces, particularly the squamous cells, and later spread and affect parts of the skin, liver, breasts, lymph nodes, genitalia, lungs, liver, and bones.

Several different head and neck cancers arise, affecting the different parts of the head, neck, and throat. Broadly, they can be classified as:

Throat Cancer:

Cancer that affects parts of the throat, such as the pharynx, larynx, and tonsils.

The common throat cancer symptoms are:

  • Lump in the nose, neck, or cheeks
  • Persistent sore throat and mouth pain
  • Difficulty in speaking, breathing, or hearing
  • Change in voice
  • Pain or ringing in ear and throat
  • White or red patches inside the mouth

Laryngeal Cancer:

Cancer that affects the larynx(voice box) along with the vocal cords.

The common laryngeal cancer symptoms are:

  • Change in voice
  • Persistent sore throat and cough
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Continuos ear-ache
  • Lump and swelling in the neck
  • Pain or difficulty while swallowing

Oral Cancer Symptoms:

It is the cancer that affects the squamous cells that line parts of the mouth that includes lips, mouth, gums, and tongue.

The typical oral cavity cancer symptoms are:

  • Persistent soreness on the lips and mouth
  • Bleeding or numbness in the lip or mouth
  • Red or white patches on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth
  • Difficulty or Pain while chewing or swallowing
  • Swelling of jaw or lumps in gums or lips

Nasal Cavity and Paranasal sinus Cancer Symptoms:

Cancer that affects areas near the nose such as the nasal cavity and the sinuses' paranasal cells.

Common symptoms are:

  • Runny nose or nosebleeds
  • Blocked sinuses or sinus pressure
  • Headaches and numbness in the face
  • Persistent lump in the nose or on the roof of the mouth
  • Swelling in eyes
  • Pain in upper teeth

Salivary Gland Cancer Symptoms:

It occurs when malignant cells form in the salivary glands' tissues.

The typical salivary gland cancer symptoms are:

  • Difficulty while swallowing food
  • Pain or difficulty in opening the mouth
  • Fluid discharge from the ear
  • Lump near the ear, lips, cheeks, jaw, or inside of the mouth
  • Persistent Pain and numbness in the face

Esophageal Cancer Symptoms

Esophageal cancer occurs in the esophagus (food pipe). Esophageal cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths globally, and is majorly due to excessive Tobacco and Alcohol consumption.

Early-stage esophageal cancer typically shows few symptoms, but as it grows, the following symptoms become profound:

  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Difficulty or Pain while swallowing
  • Chest Pain or discomfort
  • Persistent coughs and hoarseness

What are the Symptoms of Uterine Cancer?

Uterine cancer forms in the different tissues of the uterus, the most common being endometrial cancer. Usually, uterine cancer may not show any symptoms at the first stage. The common uterine cancer symptoms that are seen are:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Pain in the pelvic region
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Bleeding in between periods

What are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer starts in the ovaries and is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women. Ovarian Cancer shows minimal symptoms, and is therefore hard to diagnose at an early stage, leading to its high mortality rate. For this reason, Ovarian Cancer is also known as the Silent Cancer.

The common Ovarian Cancer symptoms are:

  • A constant urge for urination
  • Abdominal inflammation
  • Constipation
  • Abnormal Pain during menstruating
  • Pain in the pelvis region
  • Nausea and vomiting

What are the Symptoms of Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer forms in the tissues of the cervix. There are usually no Cervical Cancer symptoms, but the cancer can be diagnosed with a Pap Test or HPV screening test. The Human Papillomavirus( HPV) causes almost all cervical cancers, and therefore cervical cancers at the early stages can be treated with an HPV vaccine.

The common Cervical Cancer symptoms that become visible at a later stage are:

  • Vaginal discharge or bleeding
  • Pain during sex
  • Abnormal bleeding after intercourse
  • Chronic back or pelvic pain
  • Menstrual bleeding exceeds the usual number of days

What are the Symptoms of Vaginal Cancer?

The cancer that starts in the vagina is vaginal cancer. Vaginal cancer is very rare and has a high survival rate if diagnosed early. It commonly occurs in the cells that line the vagina's surface, sometimes called the birth canal. Pain and abnormal vaginal bleeding are the most common symptoms of vaginal cancers.

The typical vaginal cancer symptoms are:

  • Watery vaginal discharge
  • Pain during urination
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding after intercourse or menopause
  • Small lump in the vagina
  • Frequent urge for urination
  • Persistent pelvic pain
  • Constipation

Vulvar Cancer Symptoms

Vulvar cancer is a comparatively rare disease in which cancer forms in the tissues of the vulva, the female genitalia. Vulvar cancer is mostly associated with HPV infection, just like cervical or vaginal cancer. Vulvar cancers can be detected in regular gynecologic exams and can be treated with HPV vaccines.

The usual vulvar cancer symptoms are:

  • Persistent itching
  • Pain and discomfort in the pelvic area
  • Abnormal bleeding and discharge
  • Change of skin color in the vulvar region
  • A small lump or sore in the region

What are the Symptoms of Kidney Cancer?

Kidney cancer occurs in the kidneys, the two bean-shaped organs located behind the abdominal organs. There are several types of kidney cancers, with renal cell carcinoma, the most common type and usually seen in adults, and Wilm' tumor more commonly seen kidney cancer in children.

The usual kidney cancer symptoms are:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Persistent Pain in the back
  • Small lump on the lower back
  • Persistent fever
  • Anemia

What are the Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer occurs in the pancreatic tissues and is difficult to identify in the early stages. The pancreas is the organ responsible for digestion and keeping a check on the blood sugar, and is located in the abdomen, behind the lower stomach. Unfortunately, Pancreatic Cancer is extremely metastatic and spreads directly to vital organs such as bile ducts, intestines, major blood vessels, etc. that are located right next to it.

The common Pancreatic Cancer symptoms are:

  • Abdominal Pain or bloating
  • Lower back pain
  • Indigestion and other digestive problems
  • Changes in stool
  • Diabetes
  • Enlarged gallbladder
  • Jaundice

What are the Symptoms of Brain Cancer?

Brain cancer occurs when malignant cells overgrow in the brain tissues. These cells overgrow to form tumors, which may interfere with brain functions such as memory, muscle control, sensation, and other bodily functions. Unfortunately, brain tumors often grow very quickly and can be quite life-threatening.

The usual Brain Cancer symptoms are:

  • Headaches that may be acute or persistent and may worsen in the morning
  • Vision change; blurred or double vision
  • Muscle twitches or spasms
  • Difficulty in general motory functions
  • Weakness of one side of the body
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Inability to speak or understand
  • Numbness, fatigue, or vertigo

What are the Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer occurs in the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located below Adam's apple. The thyroid is the organ responsible for regulating the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight. The initial stage of thyroid cancer may not show any profound symptoms and will be hard to diagnose.

The typical thyroid cancer symptoms are:

  • Lump that can be felt on your neck
  • Change in voice, becoming more hoarse
  • Difficulty or Pain during swallowing
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Pain or discomfort in the neck and throat region

What are the Symptoms of Blood Cancer?

Blood cancer occurs due to the abnormal growth of blood cells. It can also happen when the bone marrow stops producing healthy blood cells or when the multiplication of cells happens at an abnormal pace.

There are three main types of blood cancer:

Leukemia

Leukemia is the cancer that affects the blood-forming tissues of the body, including bone marrow and the lymphatic system. The white blood cells multiply abnormally and are unable to fight infections, harmful bacterias, and viruses entering the body. There are four main types of Leukemia, and symptoms also vary depending upon the various types.

The common symptoms of Leukemia are:

  • Persistent fever or chills
  • Persistent, recurrent, or severe infections
  • Sudden and frequent bruising or bleeding
  • Night sweats
  • Repeated nosebleeds
  • Swollen lymph nodes or spleen
  • Tiny red spots
  • Bone or joint Pain and tenderness
  • Lymphoma

    Lymphoma is the cancer that affects the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system comprises lymph nodes, spleen, throat, thymus, and lymphatic tissue found in the small intestine. Its primary function is moving the white blood cells to and from the lymph nodes. There are more than 60 types of lymphoma, which is broadly categorized into two types:

    Hodgkin's Lymphoma

    Hodgkin's Lymphoma starts in the B-cells that are responsible for forming antibodies for the body and can be identified by the presence of large lymphocytes at the lymph nodes.

    The typical Hodgkin's Lymphoma symptoms are:

    • Swelling of lymph nodes
    • Persistent Fatigue and fever
    • Night sweats
    • Severe itching
    • Pain in lymph nodes after Alcohol consumption

    Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

    This is the type of Blood Cancer observed in T-cells of the body and is more common than Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

    The typical Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma symptoms are:

    • Persistent fever and fatigue
    • Abdominal swelling
    • Pain in the chest and abdomen
    • Swollen lymph nodes
    • Night sweats

    Myeloma

    Myeloma is a type of Blood Cancer that affects the white blood cells that make antibodies called plasma cells. It occurs when B-cells do not develop into plasma cells, and these immature cells are produced rapidly. They produce antibodies that cannot ward off infections and hinder other normal cells' functions.

    The usual Myeloma symptoms are:

    • Bone Pain and tenderness
    • Pain in chest and spine
    • Mental fogginess or confusion
    • Persistent Fatigue and nausea
    • Weakness in legs
    • Excessive thirst

    What are the Symptoms of Bone Cancer?

    Bone cancer is the cancer that affects the bones in our body. It can occur anywhere in the body but is commonly seen in the bones in the pelvis region or the long bones in the arms and legs. Bone cancers are very rare, making up only 1% of the total cancers.

    The typical bone cancer symptoms include:

    • Pain in bones
    • Radiating Pain in arms or legs due to the tumor rubbing nearby nerves
    • Swelling of bones
    • Feeling tenderness in the area
    • Easily broken bones

    What are the Symptoms of Rectal Cancer?

    Rectal cancer occurs in the rectum, the last few inches of the large intestine. The rectum starts at the end of the colon and ends at the anus. Even though Rectal Cancer and Colon Cancer are often clubbed together as colorectal cancer, the treatment methods are quite different. This is mainly because the rectum sits in a tight space surrounded by other organs and structures, making it hard to be removed through Surgery.

    The common Rectal Cancer symptoms are:

    • Change in bowel habits including Diarrhea and constipation
    • Blood in stool
    • Narrow stool
    • Feeling that bowel hasn't emptied completely

    What are the Symptoms of Anal Cancer?

    Anal cancer is a rare type of cancer that begins in the anal canal, the short tube at the end of the rectum through which stool is removed from the body. If diagnosed early, anal cancer is highly treatable. It is more common in adults over the age of 60.

    The common anal cancer symptoms are:

    • Itching in the area of the anus
    • Pain in the area of the anus
    • Bleeding from the anus
    • Blood in stool
    • Small lump near the anus
    • Change in bowel habits

    What are the Symptoms of Eye Cancer?

    Eye cancer is a comparatively rare type of cancer. Intraocular cancer is the cancer that starts inside the eyeball. Melanoma is the most common type of eye cancer, along with Lymphoma and retinoblastoma in children. Most melanomas form in the eye parts which is not usually visible in the mirror, making it hard to diagnose it early.

    The common eye cancer symptoms are:

    • Having troubled or blurred vision
    • Seeing flashes of light
    • Seeing spots or lines
    • Having a dark spot on the iris
    • Bulging of eye
    • Growing lump in the eye or eyelid

    What are the Symptoms of Small intestine Cancer?

    Small intestine cancer occurs in the small intestine, which connects the stomach to the large intestine. The primary function of it is to breakdown and absorb the nutrients and vitamins from food. When the cancer occurs, tumor cells may block the pathway of food, leading to complications.

    The typical small intestine cancer symptoms are:

    • Swelling in the abdomen
    • Pain or discomfort in the abdomen
    • Blood in stool
    • Anemia or jaundice
    • Vomiting and nausea

    What are the Symptoms of Gallbladder Cancer?

    Gallbladder cancer is a rare type of cancer that begins in the gallbladder, a pear-shaped organ on the right side of the abdomen below the liver. It stores bile, a digestive fluid produced by the liver. Gallbladder cancer is often diagnosed at a later stage since the symptoms are not very profound and due to its location in the body.

    The usual gallbladder cancer symptoms are:

    • Abdominal Pain and cramps
    • Abdominal bloating
    • Yellowing of skin
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Itchy skin

    What are the Symptoms of Spleen Cancer?

    Spleen cancer occurs in the spleen, a small organ in the upper-left side of the stomach. Spleen is part of the lymphatic system and does several functions such as filtering out damaged blood cells, sending blood to the liver, preventing infections, and helping the blood to clot. Spleen cancer often shows no symptoms.

    The most common spleen cancer symptoms when it happens are:

    • Enlarged spleen
    • Abdomen pain
    • Night sweats
    • Persistent fever and infections
    • Bleeding easily

    What are the Symptoms of Spinal Cancer?

    Spinal cancer occurs when cells grow out of control in the spinal cord or bones, forming a tumor. The spinal cord is a vital part of the central nervous system, extending from the brain to the pelvis.

    The typical spinal cancer symptoms are:

    • Pain in the back, neck, arms, or legs
    • Numbness in the arms or legs
    • Loss of sense
    • Varying degrees of paralysis
    • Difficulty in walking
    • Spinal deformities

    What are the Symptoms of Nail Cancer?

    Nail cancer or subungual melanoma is a rare type of cancer that forms under the fingernails. If undetected in the early stages, it can spread to other parts of the body.

    The typical nail cancer symptoms are:

    • Black bands of color in nail
    • Splitting or bleeding nail
    • Slow healing of nail lesions
    • Pain in nail
    • Formation of pus in nail

    What are the Symptoms of Penile Cancer?

    Penile cancer is the cancer that occurs in the penis. It is a rare type of cancer that can become deadly if left untreated. It often starts in the outer skin and spreads inside the penis.

    The general penile cancer symptoms are:

    • Changes in skin thickness
    • Small lump on the penis
    • Ulcer or rash on the penis
    • Smelly discharge from the foreskin
    • Small swelling in the penis

    What are the Symptoms of Ear Cancer?

    Ear cancer is a rare type of cancer that occurs in both the inner and external parts of the ear. It often starts from the outer skin and spreads inside the ear. A small percentage of ear cancer also occurs inside the ear.

    The typical ear cancer symptoms are:

    • Lump near the ear canal
    • Ear pain
    • Hearing loss
    • Rough and scaly patches of skin near the ear
    • Ringing in ears
    • Bleeding or discharge from the ear

Anxiety

Anxiety is a mental health disorder in which the patient is mostly worried and may feel fear. It can affect the daily routine of the individual including their mental and emotional health. A cancer diagnosis affects patients, families, and caregivers to the patients. It might lead to depression, anxiety, and fear in them. This Anxiety creates an opposing effect on Cancer Treatment and also causes many side effects. A study has concluded that more than 16,000 men and women who were over the age of 40 and are suffering from Anxiety are 2 times more likely to die from cancer as compared to those who are not suffering from Anxiety.

Side effects of Anxiety in cancer

  • Increase of Pain in affected areas: Cancer Treatment often causes pain, especially in the affected area. However, Anxiety in cancer patients can increase this Pain even more. Research shows an acute increase in Pain during Chemotherapy in patients who have Anxiety and Depression issues.
  • Sleep deprivation: Anxiety can cause Insomnia and sleep deprivation in cancer patients which can adversely affect their treatment and its effectiveness. Lack of sleep can increase Stress levels in the body, which is a known cause of cancer.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Anxiety causes the release of neurotransmitters, which when entering the digestive tract can cause stomach symptoms like Nausea and Vomiting. In cancer patients, the effects are more intense due to the regular cancer-caused Nausea.
  • Development of gastrointestinal disorders: Anxiety can cause a number of gastrointestinal disorders that range from upset stomach and stomach pains to irritable bowel syndrome. Cancer patients are especially susceptible to such issues because of the weakening of their bodies during treatment.
  • Some cancer patients develop Anxiety about scans, such as X-ray, CT scan, MRI. It is due to the repetitive calls for various scans. This condition is also known as scanxiety. This can hinder taking necessary scans for Cancer Treatment.
  • Reduction in body's immunity: Anxiety can affect one's immune system as it affects the sleep cycle and overall functioning of the body. Cancer patients in their weakened state post-treatment will be prone to immunity depletion due to Anxiety.
  • Depression: Acute and chronic Anxiety result in depression, more often than not. Cancer patients with Depression will have a hard time staying motivated during their treatment. Moreover, it can also manifest physical side-effects like lack of immunity.

Anxiety increases cancer risk through the severity of symptoms. It can affect both mental and physical health of a survivor recuperating from the treatment side effects.

Symptoms of Anxiety in cancer

  • Fatigue-
    The patient may feel muscular weakness and numbness of limbs. This condition occurs due to the low capacity to overcome emotional exhaustion, which arises with a high level of Stress and demotivation. It may also be the result of other common Anxiety symptoms or side effects like Insomnia and muscle tension. Fatigue may also follow an Anxiety attack.
  • Appetite
    Anxiety causes abrupt release of several Stress hormones, which is our body's natural reaction to Stress. The sudden hormonal changes can affect appetite. For instance, corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), a Stress hormone, cause appetite suppression. Yet another Stress hormone, cortisol, causes sped up digestion process, which can increase the appetite. People usually avoid eating during an anxious state.
  • Peripheral neuropathy
    Peripheral Neuropathy is regarding nerve damage, and Anxiety does not cause damage to the nerves. However, it does cause symptoms that mimic or are similar to that of Peripheral Neuropathy like tingling, numbness, movement issues, or burning.
  • Sleeplessness
    Anxiety creates a disturbance in your normal sleep pattern. It also creates some new sleep problems or worsens pre existing disorders. Waking up in the middle of the night are common in patients with Anxiety disorder. Healthy sleep is very important for a cancer patient as it directly affects the effectiveness of Cancer Treatment.
  • Pain
    The relationship with Anxiety and cancer Pain are bidirectional. For Anxiety causes increased Pain in cancer patients during their treatment, and as patients experience Pain during their treatment, their Anxiety levels increase. The patient becomes more anxious about the spread of cancer or intensive treatment. Pain also acts as a symptom of Anxiety disorder.
  • Nausea and vomiting
    Anxiety might lead to Nausea and Vomiting before every treatment. When we get overtly anxious, our body triggers its fight-or-flight response. This response affects several systems in our body, including the digestive system. Anxiety's affect on the digestive system results in nausea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal disorders.

Coping up with Anxiety during cancer

There are several methods to cope with Anxiety. Below are a few of them:
Relaxation techniques like yoga, deep breathing, and Guided Imagery can help you feel positive and relaxed. Approach health professionals like psychologists and counselors to help you to improve your coping skills and to brush aside the negative thoughts in your mind. Cognitive-behavioral therapy might be required. If the symptoms of Anxiety are severe, the patient might opt for medication. The medication should be decided as per the needs of the patient and the potential side-effects. The ongoing treatment should also be kept in mind before prescribing the medication.

The patient should consult a doctor or a professional to decide on the best course of action. You should not reduce the communication with your loved ones or your medical team at all.

Managing Anxiety

Mind-body approaches including these:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Hypnosis
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness-based Stress reduction (MBSR)
  • Music therapy
  • Relaxation training
  • Supportive/expressive therapy Stress management
  • Support groups
  • Yoga
  • Massage from a trained massage therapist

Therapies based on a philosophy of bioenergy fields, such as these:

  • Reiki
  • Healing Touch
  • Therapeutic Touch®

Changes in Appetite

Changes in Food Intake

Cancer itself, or the side-effects of Cancer Treatment such as fatigue, Nausea or vomiting, pain, depression, and lethargy can bring down appetite in cancer patients. Lack of appetite often leads to malnutrition and weight loss. Cutting back on the intake of food can eventually affect a person's quality of life and their ability to do routine activities. Hence, maintaining body weight is vital for enhancing physical strength and body functioning while getting treated for cancer.
However, there is no need to force yourself into eating as it might cause stomach ache or Nausea.

Causes of appetite loss

Appetite loss can be contributed by the following factors.

  • A tumor in or around the gastrointestinal tract can disturb the intake of food and cause difficulty in swallowing. Some cancers can secrete chemicals to instill a feeling of fullness in the stomach despite eating less.
  • Specific tumors can release hormones that can affect appetite.
  • Tumor pressure on organs, depression, stress, dry mouth, mouth sores, fatigue, nausea, constipation, bloating, and dehydration caused by cancer itself or cancer treatments can reduce the appetite of a person.
  • Patients might find eating or food off-putting due to altered taste buds or olfactory senses, caused by Surgery or cancer treatments.

How to manage the loss of appetite?

Here are a few integral approaches to manage the loss of appetite.

  • Instead of three large meals, eat six small meals throughout the day.
  • Stock up on high-calorie and nutrient-dense high-protein foods such as peanut butter, liquid nutritional supplements, cheese, puddings, granola bars, and Nuts.
  • Try to be as physically active (walking, cycling) as possible to help you feel hungry.
  • Peppermint, fennel, ginger, and catnip can stimulate your appetite.

Weight Gain

While some people lose weight, there are a few others who gain weight during Cancer Treatment. A slight increase in weight isn't much of a problem, but a sudden and significant increase can be detrimental to a person's health. Weight gain is experienced, especially by women battling Breast Cancer. An increase in weight can affect the chances of recovery.
Being overweight can aggravate the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems.

Causes of weight gain

Several cancer treatments like Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy result in treatment side effects which may grow problematic for the patients if not attended to. Going through rounds of therapy sessions have their own set of problems in appetite and can pose drastic changes in weight. Some of the ways cancer treatments impact a patient's weight are:

  • Causes the body to retain fluid, i.e., edema
  • Causes Fatigue and makes the patient inactive
  • Triggers food cravings
  • Brings down a person's metabolism (rate by which the body converts food into energy)
  • Causes menopause (for some) which can affect the metabolism

Steroid medications, prescribed during Cancer Treatment for reducing pain, swelling, and to reduce Nausea and cancer symptoms can:

  • Increase in appetite
  • Increase in fatty tissues which causes fullness in a person's face, neck, and abdomen
  • Muscle mass loss (wasting)
  • A visible increase in weight

Hormonal therapy employed for the treatment of prostate, uterine, testicular, and Breast Cancer involves administering medicines that cause the amount of progesterone and estrogen in women and the amount of testosterone in men to drop. A decrease in these specified hormone levels can subsequently decrease muscle, increase fat, and bring down the metabolism.

How to manage weight gain?

  • Include plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in your meals.
  • Cut back on sugar, fat, and refined flour.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Exercising is the key to manage weight gain. Strength-building exercises can help build lost muscle but ask your doctor before trying out any physical activity.

If Stress or emotions are starting to affect your appetite, then trying a mind-body approach might be helpful. Cancer patients are advised to work towards their emotional wellness and being mindful towards what they eat or do during their treatment days poses a great impact on the results. Listening to one's mind can work wonders towards recovery. Apart from these integral therapies, consider consulting your oncologist to help you identify the right diet or exercise strategy to ease your situation.

Depression

Side effects of cancer - Depression

Tackle cancer-treatment Depression the right way

Patients before, during, or after Cancer Treatment or at the outset of diagnosis can present mood-related, behavioral, cognitive, and physical symptoms of Depression. Depression is a mood disorder that can affect the coping mechanism of cancer patients. Since it can impact the quality of life, identifying Depression and dealing with it are important steps to ensure an effective Cancer Treatment.

Symptoms of Depression

The following are the category-wise symptoms of depression:

Mood-related symptoms:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Helplessness
  • Guilt feelings
  • Low self-esteem

Behavioral symptoms

  • Frequent crying
  • Withdrawal from the social scene, family, and friends
  • Anhedonia (the inability to derive pleasure from activities, once considered enjoyable)
  • Lack of motivation to carry out routine activities

Cognitive symptoms

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Finds decision-making tough
  • Confused memory

Physical symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Anorexia (Loss of Appetite)
  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia (inability to fall asleep)
  • Hypersomnia (feeling sleepy most of the time)
  • Lack of sexual desire

Cognitive and physical symptoms of Depression listed above are possible side-effects of Cancer Treatment or cancer itself. Thus, when diagnosing Depression in a cancer patient, doctors Stress emphasize mood-related and behavioral symptoms.

Risk factors for developing Depression in cancer patients

Cancer-related risk factors

  • Depression at the time of diagnosis for cancer
  • Advanced cancer stage
  • Increased Pain or physical impairment
  • Pancreatic cancer

Non-cancer-related risk factors

  • Life stressors
  • Family history of depression
  • Previous diagnosis of depression
  • History of drug abuse or alcoholism

Depression in cancer patients can advance the risk of relapse following the treatment and impact the success of antineoplastic therapy.

Screening

As of now, there is no suitable screening method recommended for the diagnosis of Depression in cancer patients. A simple interrogation cannot reveal sufficient information, especially when we live in a society that attaches a social stigma to illnesses related to the mind. Patients might feel reluctant in openly admitting about how they feel about their condition or whether they are depressed. Besides, feeling normal amounts of sadness after a cancer diagnosis is nothing to worry about.

One approach is to observe the patient's social interactions with family members and friends. If the patient's subtle remarks make room for suspicion, then a comprehensive psychiatric assessment for Depression may be required.

Treatment

Specialized cure followed by appropriate diagnosis would be the effective mode of treatment for addressing Depression in cancer patients. For people diagnosed with moderate or severe depressive disorder, a blend of psychological care and medication has proved to be the most efficient treatment. And for those diagnosed with mild depression, an appointment with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a licensed counselor (mental health professionals) can help relieve most depressive symptoms.

Psychological treatment

Mental health professionals provide you with the necessary tools to help you cope with the disorder by developing a support system, and bringing you back from the negativity clouding your mind. Psychological care is offered through group therapy, couples or family therapy, or individual therapy.

Medication

Psychiatrists are the ones who prescribe medications for depressive disorder, and they select the appropriate antidepressant based on the following factors:

  • The extent of your depression
  • Possible side-effects
  • Other medications you were prescribed (few medications can interfere with antidepressants)
  • Medical history

Some patients show signs of improvement after two weeks of medication, but it can take up to 6-8 weeks for the antidepressants to be wholly effective.

Follow-Up

Make sure that you frequently update your oncologist regarding your appointments with your mental health professional. Let them know your progress and whether you are starting to feel better. In case the treatment fails even after 8 weeks of medication, consider other treatment options, or seek the services of a counselor.

Fatigue

People with cancer commonly experience Fatigue as a result of the challenges of cancer and the treatment you go through. This type of Fatigue might feel like persistent physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. This might feel different than feeling tired after not getting enough rest. It might interfere with daily life and it may not match the person's level of activity. It won't improve with rest and might continue long after your treatment ends.

Doctor's Recommendations

Cancer clinicians and researchers are diligently looking for effective ways to manage cancer-related Fatigue. Merry Jennifer Markham, MD, describes eight ways to cope with cancer-related fatigue:

  • Treat medical conditions or other conditions that worsen Fatigue.
  • Get moving.
  • Take time to relax.
  • Eat well.
  • Practice good sleep habits.
  • Engage in mind-body strategies.
  • Consider therapy and counseling.
  • Get a massage.
  • Managing Fatigue

There are several complementary approaches that can be helpful for Fatigue. Certain diets might help manage Fatigue as shown for Breast Cancer patients in this study.
Some mind-body approaches also help patients, regular fitness, and therapies like healing touch and Therapeutic touch.
We will set up an exercise counseling session during which symptoms will be reviewed and current functional status, as well as current and previous exercise habits. We will provide you with individualized exercise recommendations and include plans which will help you reach your goals.

Grief

Cancer Grief: How to Grieve Properly For an Easy Tomorrow

Fighting cancer while living with its symptoms can induce Grief. You experience Grief for losses, be it tangible (strands of hair or an organ) or intangible (loss of independence), in various stages of Cancer Treatment. Grief stays with you heavily, overshadowing daily activities, and slowly affects the body and mind. However, Grief isn't permanent, and like time, it helps us heal and recover, and it expects us to yield to its wisdom, although the process can be slow. Grief, once it has taken its course, can transform our mentality and break the walls of our mind. The process, once complete, helps us emerge with a sense of strength, wholeness, and wisdom.

How cancer causes grief<

Experts recommend that the first step to managing Grief is to understand it. It is natural for people to get frustrated with grieving and trying to end the process quickly, but this is not the right approach. Imagine your loss as a wound and your Grief as the process of healing. The greater the loss of blood, the longer the healing process.
Most patients undergoing Cancer Treatment can experience collateral losses, such as not being able to make it to the workplace, engage in routine activities, or mounting financial burden. Since life-changes and multiple losses occur in close contiguity, Grief may persist, continue to grow, and take new forms. Therefore, the best way to manage it is to look at your losses in the face, handle your emotions healthily, and allow yourself to grieve.

The process of cancer grieving.

Types of loss notwithstanding, the tasks of grieving process stand the same.
The first step is to accept your loss. Allow yourself to go through the Pain of Grief and overwhelming sadness.
Try to adjust to a world without the thing you have lost.
By forming a connection to the thing you have lost, try to stop the loss from affecting your progress in life. For instance, think about what the Grief has taught you, how far you have come from the day of your loss, and the things you can remember fondly with no remnants of Pain.

Unfortunately, though, it isn't so easy that you can come out of it after going through a few stages. You might experience acute Grief at specific times, such as the first holiday after the cancer diagnosis, which is normal and is a part of the grieving process. Momentary grieving in such instances can set off a long period of reflection, walking you down the memory lane.

Grief can manifest in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Fatigue
  • Helplessness
  • Shock
  • Yearning
  • Emancipation
  • Relief
  • Numbness
  • A tight feeling in the chest or throat
  • Breathlessness
  • Dry mouth
  • Emptiness in the stomach

How to help yourself

Acknowledge your Grief. Face your emotions head-on and give your Grief time. Never force yourself to feel better because it might affect the healing process. If restricted and not let out, Grief can turn into a caged bird, detrimental to your mental health. Whatever be your feelings, positive or negative, give them a voice and let them out freely. Talk to someone whom you trust, a family member, or a friend about how you are feeling. Don't be ashamed to let tears fall, as crying is a necessary part of grieving and makes the process complete. Also, crying relieves your mind and unburdens your emotions. Eat well, take your medicines on time, and drink plenty of fluids. Stay hydrated and stay positive.
Face cancer with courage, be patient, and be kind to yourself.

Sweating

Sweating and night sweats are fairly common in people with cancer. They can be a distressing symptom and affect the quality of life, particularly when they frequently interrupt sleep. Sweating can be described as the body suddenly feeling hot. They typically begin with an uneasy feeling, then feeling intensely hot in the face and/or upper body, then feeling hot all over. Before or during the sweating, people may feel nausea, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and headache. There may be flushing and Sweating. According to the National Cancer Institute, Sweating and night sweats may be side effects of cancer or its treatment.

Causes of Sweating

The hypothalamus gland is the body's thermostat. When it senses that the body is too hot, the hypothalamus causes a reaction similar to Sweating. When you have a fever and become flushed (red), feel hot, and start sweating, the hypothalamus is doing its job.

Sweating can be caused by the following:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Surgical removal of ovaries or testes
  • Radiation damage to the ovaries, testes, or the hypothalamic region of the brain.
  • Menopause
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs such as opioids
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Steroids

Managing Sweating

Conventional Approaches

Hormonal, drug, and non-drug approaches are available to manage Sweating. Even though estrogen replacement therapy seems to be the most successful therapy for natural or treatment-induced menopause, this therapy is contraindicated in women who have or have had breast cancer, high-risk endometrial cancer, or some ovarian cancers. In some of these cancers, suppressing estrogen's growth-promoting effects on the cancer cells is crucial.

Sweating in men with Prostate Cancer may be treated with estrogens, progestin, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants. However, certain hormones (such as estrogen) can make some cancers grow or increase your risk of other cancers.

Integrative Approaches

A number of complementary approaches can help relieve or reduce the frequency of sweating:

  • Dietary strategies such as sipping on ice-cold drinks, or reducing or avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods

Mind-Body approaches such as:

  • Hypnosis
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

Approaches for managing sweating

  • Sleeping well by creating a more comfortable environment such as wearing light cotton clothing and running a fan or opening a window to cool the bedroom
  • Acupuncture

Before starting any of these therapies, either consult a physician or talk to us to find safer ways to practice this.

Nausea & Vomiting

Nausea and Vomiting is one of the most distressing side effects that people with cancer experience. This can sometimes lead to dehydration, serious electrolyte imbalance, and weight loss.

Common causes of Nausea and Vomiting

  • Certain Chemotherapy and targeted Immunotherapy regimens
  • Other medications
  • Radiation therapy to the whole body or certain parts of the body (such as the abdominal area or the brain's Vomiting center).
  • Cancer in the brain
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Blocked intestines
  • Infections
  • Bleeding in the stomach or intestines

Key Points

  • Unmanaged Nausea and Vomiting can lead to dehydration, serious electrolyte imbalance, weight loss, and anticipatory Nausea and Vomiting.
  • Many effective antiemetic regimens are available for specific types of Cancer Treatment.
  • A number of integrative approaches can enhance your antiemetic regimen and improve your comfort.

Managing Nausea and Vomiting

There are of course conventional ways to prevent your Nausea and vomiting, but we prefer to also look at integrative approaches that will enhance your anti-vomiting regimen and improve your comfort. Some of the things that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) suggests are deep breathing, guided imagery, hypnosis, and other relaxation techniques such as listening to music, reading a book, or meditating.

Pain

What is Cancer Pain Management?

Nearly half of the patients with cancer feel the Pain that can manifest in different ways. Pain may be short-lived or long-lasting, mild or extreme, or in one or more organs, and even bones may be affected. Because your Pain is unique, we tailor cancer Pain management care plans to fit your needs.

Why should you opt for Cancer Pain management?

Cancer treatment can have multiple side effects including pain, vomiting, Nausea. We can help you with below in this regard:

  • Reduce the side effects of Cancer Treatment and improve quality of life through palliative care.
  • Expert Pain management medicine and therapies, including NSAIDs like morphine.
  • Registered nurses trained in cancer care for dressing, cleaning chemo PICC line & port, checking vitals, etc.

Fee of Pain Management:

The Fee for Pain management depends on the type of treatment and Pain management medicines required. The fee of a Pain management nurse starts from Rs 1,000 per hour/day, depending on the city.

Your next steps

The best way to learn about how we can help you at ZenOnco.io is to call a Patient Care Manager (PCM) at +91 99 30 70 90 00. To read about Pain management in detail please click here.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral Neuropathy is the damage that occurs to the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord that carries messages to and from the rest of your body. Depending on where these nerves are located and damaged, various symptoms may develop such as:

  • Numbness, tingling, or Pain in the hands and/or feet
  • Muscle weakness
  • A change in organ function, such as constipation

The damage to your nerves may have several causes as well:

  • A tumor that presses on or grows into a peripheral nerve
  • Some cancer treatments including certain Chemotherapy drugs, Radiation therapy or surgery
  • Some cancer-related disorders such as paraneoplastic syndrome or shingles
  • Non-cancer-related conditions and diseases, including diabetes.

Key Points:

Neuropathy is damage to the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves). The American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) advises an integrative approach to managing Peripheral Neuropathy. A few other therapies have some evidence of effectiveness.

Managing your Neuropathy

The American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) advises an integrative approach to managing peripheral neuropathy:

  • Eating well, including a balanced diet that includes specific nutrients such as Vitamin B and antioxidants
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Relaxation
  • Moving more

Sexual Difficulties

“Altered sexuality” is one of the top concerns of people with cancer, however, it is not addressed by most doctors. Many people feel embarrassed or awkward to bring up this topic with their doctors. However, sexual problems are relatively common among people with cancer and can negatively affect your and your partner's quality of life. No matter your age, your sexuality is important and worthy of yours and your doctor's attention.

Sexual problems can be caused by several sources:

  • Effects of cancer and/or its treatment
  • Drugs used to treat symptoms and other conditions
  • Anxiety, depression, worries, stress, fatigue, pain, insomnia, nausea, or changes in your appearance
  • Hormonal changes
  • Changes to nerves or sexual organs and tissues
  • Fertility is also a concern for those who are still in their reproductive years and must be addressed before starting treatment that can alter fertility.

Talking about your sexual function with your healthcare team even before there is a problem is key, as some potential problems—such as fertility or potential nerve damage—should be considered before treatment. If problems arise, let your healthcare team know sooner rather than later.

Key Points

  • Sexual problems are relatively common among people with cancer and can affect your partner's quality of life.
  • No matter your age it is important to speak to your healthcare professionals about your care.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your healthcare professional and ask what can be done to help you.
  • Conventional, as well as integrative therapies and lifestyle practices, may help manage Sexual Difficulties.

Managing Sexual Difficulties

In addition to conventional interventions for sexual problems, integrative therapies and lifestyle practices may also help:

Mind-body approaches including these:

  • Counseling
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Qigong Taichi
  • Moving more
  • Eating well
  • Sleeping well
  • Sharing love and support

Sleep Disturbances

Sleeplessness (Insomnia) is a fairly common sleep problem for those with cancer. The experience of it is having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during the night. It may cause you problems during the day such as tiredness, low energy, poor concentration, and irritability.

Unmanaged symptoms such as pain, depression, or Anxiety can contribute to sleeplessness. This can often worsen other cancer-related symptoms.

Key Points

  • Insomnia is the experience of having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during the night.
  • Unmanaged symptoms such as pain, depression, or Anxiety can contribute to Insomnia.
  • Several complementary approaches can help with sleep disruption.

Managing Sleep Disturbances

Several complementary approaches can help with sleep disruption. The Society for Integrative Oncology clinical practice guidelines lists integrative therapies with evidence for usefulness in sleep disruption.

Mind-Body approaches such as these:

  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness-based Stress reduction (MBSR)
  • Relaxation training
  • Hypnosis
  • Yoga

Stress

In a medical or biological context, Stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure).

There are those adverse or demanding circumstances, called “stressors” that can disrupt your internal balance and call on your body to activate a Stress response. This response is automatic and calls on every bodily system to bring the body back into balance. A certain amount is normal, hence we can't survive without a Stress response. But too much of it and it can be very damaging.

The Response and Cancer

A prolonged Stress response can produce constant bodily imbalance that can be physically damaging. Your internal organs start to function differently in response to the continuous outpouring of your cortisol hormone which one of your 3 main Stress hormones.

A prolonged Stress response will compromise your health and result in other cancer-related symptoms. The immune system will also be affected, hence when your body is focused on dealing with such stressors the job of finding and killing cancer cells will be neglected.

Sometimes you might hear people ask “did Stress cause my cancer?” There is no simple answer to that question. No good evidence shows that Stress causes cancer. But there are chemicals released in the Stress response that can speed up tumor growth.

Chronically high levels of Stress can aggravate your mental health with your cancer experience, thus increasing Anxiety and Depression. Then as an emotional distress signal, your body raises your cortisol level which further increases distress.

Essentially, your Stress may not cause you cancer, but it can increase the likelihood that the cancer will progress, as well as decrease your quality of life. If you think this is happening to you, you might need to consider managing Stress a high priority as a part of your integrative cancer care plan.

Key Points

  • Adverse or demanding circumstances, called “stressors” can disrupt your internal balance and call on your body to activate a Stress response.
  • A prolonged Stress response can produce constant bodily imbalance that can be physically damaging.
  • Unmanaged Stress can increase the likelihood that the cancer will progress, as well as decrease your quality of life.

Almost every category of complementary therapies has some useful stress-management approach. Consider seeing a professional such as a therapist or cancer navigator to help you explore your stressful situation and identify an approach that is right for you.

Managing Stress

In addition to complementary therapies for managing stress, seeing a professional such as a therapist or counselor will help you navigate your stressful situation and help you identify an approach that works for you.

Finally, be gentle with yourself and recognize that the very nature of Stress is that it often comes from circumstances that are out of your control. Look back long enough to learn from Stress so that you can face forward and see a different way of responding to the inevitable stressors of life.

What is Breast Cancer Screening

Breast cancer screening means checking a woman's breasts for cancer before there are signs or symptoms of the disease. Although Breast Cancer screening cannot prevent breast cancer, it can help find Breast Cancer early, when it is easier to treat. Talk to your doctor about which Breast Cancer screening tests are right for you, and when you should have them.

Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is an organization made up of doctors and disease experts who look at research on the best way to prevent diseases and make recommendations on how doctors can help patients avoid diseases or find them early. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women who are 50 to 74 years old and are at average risk for Breast Cancer get a mammogram every two years. Women who are 40 to 49 years old should talk to their doctor or other health care professional about when to start and how often to get a mammogram. Women should weigh the benefits and risks of screening tests when deciding whether to begin getting mammograms before age 50.

What are the available Breast Cancer Screening Tests

Mammogram

A mammogram is an X-Ray of the breast. Mammograms are the best way to find Breast Cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. Having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from Breast Cancer. At this time, a mammogram is the best way to find Breast Cancer for most women.

Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

A breast MRI uses magnets and radio waves to take pictures of the breast. MRI is used along with mammograms to screen women who are at high risk for getting Breast Cancer. Because breast MRIs may appear abnormal even when there is no cancer, they are not used for women at average risk.

Clinical Breast Exam

A clinical breast exam is an examination by a doctor or nurse, who uses his or her hands to feel for lumps or other changes.

Where can you go for Breast Cancer screening?

You can get screened for Breast Cancer at a clinic, hospital, or doctor's office. If you want to be screened for breast cancer, call your doctor's office. They can help you schedule an appointment.

Breast Self-Awareness

Being familiar with how your breasts look and feel can help you notice symptoms such as lumps, pain, or changes in size that may be of concern. These could include changes found during a breast self-exam. You should report any changes that you notice to your doctor or health care provider. Having a clinical breast exam or doing a breast self-exam has not been found to lower the risk of dying from Breast Cancer.

Benefits and Risks of Screening

Every screening test has benefits and risks, which is why it's important to talk to your doctor before getting any screening test, like a mammogram.

Benefit of Screening

The benefit of screening is finding cancer early, when it's easier to treat.

Risks of Screening

Harms can include false positive test results, when a doctor sees something that looks like cancer but is not. This can lead to more tests, which can be expensive, invasive, time-consuming, and may cause Anxiety. Tests also can lead to over diagnosis, when doctors find a cancer that would not have gone on to cause symptoms or problems, or even may go away on its own. Treatment of these cancers is called overtreatment. Overtreatment can include treatments recommended for breast cancer, such as Surgery or Radiation therapy. These can cause unnecessary and unwanted side effects.

Other potential harms from Breast Cancer screening include Pain during the procedure and radiation exposure from the mammogram test itself. While the amount of radiation in a mammogram is small, there may be risks with having repeated X-rays. Mammograms may also miss some cancers, called false negative test results, which may delay finding a cancer and getting treatment.

What is an endoscopy?

An Endoscopy is a procedure where the surgeon uses specialized instruments to examine and operate on the body's internal organs and vessels. It helps doctors to see issues inside the body without making large incisions. A surgeon inserts an endoscope through a small cut or a natural opening in the body. An endoscope is a flexible tube with a camera attached to it that lets your doctor see. Your doctor can control forceps and scissors at the end of the endoscope, to perform Biopsy operations.

Cervical Cancer Screening

Cervical cancer screening is used to find changes in the cells of the cervix that could lead to cancer. The cervix is the opening to the uterus and is located at the top of the vagina. Screening includes cervical cytology (also called the Pap test or Pap smear) and, for some women, testing for human papillomavirus (HPV).

What causes cervical cancer?

Most cases of Cervical Cancer are caused by infection with HPV. HPV is a virus that enters cells and can cause them to change. Some types of HPV have been linked to Cervical Cancer as well as cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, mouth, and throat. Types of HPV that may cause cancer are known as “high-risk types.” HPV is passed from person to person during sexual activity. It is very common, and most people who are sexually active will get an HPV infection in their lifetime. HPV infection often causes no symptoms. Most HPV infections go away on their own. These short-term infections typically cause only mild (“low-grade”) changes in cervical cells. The cells go back to normal as the HPV infection clears. But in some women, HPV does not go away. If a high-risk type of HPV infection lasts for a long time, it can cause more severe (“high-grade”) changes in cervical cells. High-grade changes are more likely to lead to cancer.

Why is Cervical Cancer screening important?

It usually takes 37 years for high-grade changes in cervical cells to become cancer. Cervical Cancer screening may detect these changes before they become cancer. Women with low-grade changes can be tested more frequently to see if their cells go back to normal. Women with high-grade changes can get treatment to have the cells removed.

How is Cervical Cancer screening done?

Two screening tests can help prevent Cervical Cancer or find it early— The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become Cervical Cancer if they are not treated appropriately. The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes. Both tests can be done in a doctor's office or clinic. During the Pap test, the doctor will use a plastic or metal instrument, called a speculum, to widen your vagina. This helps the doctor examine the vagina and the cervix, and collect a few cells and mucus from the cervix and the area around it. The cells are sent to a laboratory.

If you are getting a Pap test, the cells will be checked to see if they look normal.

If you are getting an HPV test, the cells will be tested for HPV.

How often should I have screening and which tests should I have?

How often you should have Cervical Cancer screening and which tests you should have depend on your age and health history:

  • Women aged 2129 years should have a Pap test alone every 3 years. HPV testing is not recommended.
  • Women aged 3065 years should have a Pap test and an HPV test (co-testing) every 5 years (preferred). It also is acceptable to have a Pap test alone every 3 years.

When should I stop having cancer screening?

You should stop having Cervical Cancer screening after age 65 years if:

  • you do not have a history of moderate or severe abnormal cervical cells or cervical cancer, and
  • you have had either three negative Pap test results in a row or two negative co-test results in a row within the past 10 years, with the most recent test performed within the past 5 years.

If I have had a hysterectomy, do I still need Cervical Cancer screening?

If you have had a hysterectomy, you still may need screening. The decision is based on whether your cervix was removed, why the hysterectomy was needed, and whether you have a history of moderate or severe cervical cell changes or Cervical Cancer. Even if your cervix is removed at the time of hysterectomy, cervical cells can still be present at the top of the vagina. If you have a history of Cervical Cancer or cervical cell changes, you should continue to have screening for 20 years after the time of your Surgery.

Are there any women who should not follow routine Cervical Cancer screening guidelines?

Yes. Women who have a history of cervical cancer, are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), have a weakened immune system, or who were exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth may require more frequent screening and should not follow these routine guidelines.

Having an HPV vaccination does not change screening recommendations. Women who have been vaccinated against HPV still need to follow the screening recommendations for their age group.

What does it mean if I have an abnormal Cervical Cancer screening test result?

Many women have abnormal Cervical Cancer screening results. An abnormal result does not mean that you have cancer. Remember that cervical cell changes often go back to normal on their own. And if they do not, it often takes several years for even high-grade changes to become cancer.

If you have an abnormal screening test result, additional testing is needed to find out whether high-grade changes or cancer actually are present. Sometimes, only repeat testing is needed. In other cases, colposcopy and cervical Biopsy may be recommended to find out how severe the changes really are. If results of follow-up tests indicate high-grade changes, you may need treatment to remove the abnormal cells. You will need follow-up testing after treatment and will need to get regular Cervical Cancer screening after the follow-up is complete.

How accurate are Cervical Cancer screening test results?

As with any lab test, Cervical Cancer screening results are not always accurate. Sometimes, the results show abnormal cells when the cells are normal. This is called a “false-positive” result. Cervical Cancer screening also may not detect abnormal cells when they are present. This is called a “false-negative” result. To help prevent false-negative or false-positive results, you should avoid douching, sexual intercourse, and using vaginal medications or hygiene products for 2 days before your test. You also should avoid Cervical Cancer screening when you have your menstrual period."

Colorectal Cancer Screening

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that adults age 50 to 75 be screened for Colorectal Cancer. The decision to be screened after age 75 should be made on an individual basis. If you are older than 75, ask your doctor if you should be screened. People at an increased risk of getting Colorectal Cancer should talk to their doctor about when to begin screening, which test is right for them, and how often to get tested.

Several screening tests can be used to find polyps or Colorectal Cancer. The Task Force outlines the following Colorectal Cancer screening strategies. Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you.

Stool Tests

  • The guaiac-based fecal occult Blood Test (gFOBT) uses the chemical guaiac to detect blood in the stool. It is done once a year. For this test, you receive a test kit from your health care provider. At home, you use a stick or brush to obtain a small amount of stool. You return the test kit to the doctor or a lab, where the stool samples are checked for the presence of blood.
  • The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) uses antibodies to detect blood in the stool. It is also done once a year in the same way as a gFOBT.
  • The FIT-DNA test (also referred to as the stool DNA test) combines the FIT with a test that detects altered DNA in the stool. For this test, you collect an entire bowel movement and send it to a lab, where it is checked for cancer cells. It is done once every one or three years.
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy :For this test, the doctor puts a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum. The doctor checks for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and lower third of the colon. How often: Every 5 years, or every 10 years with a FIT every year.

Colonoscopy

This is similar to flexible sigmoidoscopy, except the doctor uses a longer, thin, flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers. Colonoscopy also is used as a follow-up test if anything unusual is found during one of the other screening tests.

How often: Every 10 years (for people who do not have an increased risk of colorectal cancer).

CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy)

Computed tomography (CT) colonography, also called a virtual colonoscopy, uses X-rays and computers to produce images of the entire colon, which are displayed on a computer screen for the doctor to analyze.

How often: Every 5 years.

Lung Cancer Screening

Lung Cancer Screening involves checking for a disease when it has no symptoms or history. Doctors prescribe a screening test when care can work best to detect a disease early on.

Low-dose computed tomography (also called a low-dose CT scan, or LDCT), is the only approved screening procedure for Lung Cancer. You lie on a table during an LDCT scan, and an X-Ray machine uses a low dose (amount) of radiation to make accurate pictures of the lungs. The exam takes only a couple of minutes, and is not painful.

Who Should Be Screened?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends yearly Lung Cancer screening with LDCT for people who:

  • Have a history of heavy smoking, and
  • Smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years, and
  • Are between 55 and 80 years old.

Heavy smoking means a smoking history of 30 pack years or more. A pack year is smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year. For example, a person could have a 30 pack-year history by smoking one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years.

Risks of Lung Cancer Screening

Screening has at least three risks:

  • A lung cancer-screening test can suggest that a person has Lung Cancer when no cancer is present. This is called a false-positive result. False-positive results can lead to follow-up tests and surgeries that are not needed and may have more risks.
  • A lung cancer-screening test can find cases of cancer that may never have caused a problem for the patient. This is called over diagnosis. Over diagnosis can lead to treatment that is not needed.
  • Radiation from repeated LDCT tests can cause cancer in otherwise healthy people.

That is why Lung Cancer screening is recommended only for adults who are at high risk for developing the disease because of their smoking history and age, and who do not have a health problem that substantially limits their life expectancy or their ability or willingness to have lung surgery, if needed.

If you are thinking about getting screened, talk to your doctor. If Lung Cancer screening is right for you, your doctor can refer you to a high-quality screening facility. The best way to reduce your risk of Lung Cancer is to not smoke and to avoid second hand smoke. Lung Cancer screening is not a substitute for quitting smoking.

When Should Screening Stop?

The Task Force recommends that yearly Lung Cancer screening stop when the person being screened:

  • Turns 81 years old, or
  • Has not smoked in 15 or more years, or
  • Develops a health problem that makes him or her unwilling or unable to have Surgery if Lung Cancer is found.

Ovarian Cancer Screening

A number of tests have been evaluated as potential methods of screening for Ovarian Cancer. Screening tests with the greatest amount of clinical test data supporting their use include transvaginal Ultrasound and the Blood Test for the serum marker CA-125. (Serum markers are substances in the blood that can be detected in Blood Tests.) Less information is available regarding a number of other serum markers, used alone or in combination. A newer test based on proteomics, a method which involves the evaluation of patterns of dozens to hundreds of low molecular weight proteins simultaneously, has also been recently proposed.

CA-125

The CA-125 Blood Test measures the amount of a protein called CA-125 in the blood. Many women with Ovarian Cancer have high levels of CA-125. This test can be useful as a tumour marker to help guide treatment in women known to have ovarian cancer, because a high level often goes down if treatment is working. But checking CA-125 levels has not been found to be as useful as a screening test for Ovarian Cancer. The problem with using this test for Ovarian Cancer screening is that high levels of CA-125 is more often caused by common conditions such as endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease. Also, not everyone who has Ovarian Cancer has a high CA-125 level. When someone who is not known to have Ovarian Cancer has an abnormal CA-125 level, the doctor might repeat the test (to make sure the result is correct) and may consider ordering a transvaginal Ultrasound test.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

TVUS (transvaginal ultrasound) is a test that uses sound waves to look at the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries by putting an Ultrasound wand into the vagina. It can help find a mass (tumour) in the ovary, but it can't actually tell if a mass is cancer or benign. When it is used for screening, most of the masses found are not cancer.

Factors that increase your risk of Ovarian Cancer include the following:

  • Older age
  • Having one or more relatives with ovarian cancer
  • Having abnormalities in a gene, called BRCA1 or BRCA2
  • Having genes that are linked to hereditary nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC; also called Lynch syndrome)
  • Never being pregnant
  • Being overweight

Some factors can reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer, including:

  • Using hormonal methods of birth control (pills, patch, vaginal ring, injection)
  • Being pregnant, breastfeeding
  • Having your tubes tied to prevent pregnancy
  • Having your uterus or ovaries removed

Risks and benefits of Ovarian Cancer screening

A screening test is one that can find a disease, such as cancer, in the early stages when there are no symptoms and when the cancer is most likely to respond to treatment. An example of a common screening test is the Pap smear, which is used to detect cervical precancers and cancers. A screening test must find most people with the condition and not mistakenly find people who do not have the condition. A test that is positive when no disease is present is termed a “false-positive” test. It is especially important to avoid having false-positive tests for ovarian cancer, since a positive screening test usually requires Surgery.

Benefits — The potential benefit of Ovarian Cancer screening is the chance to find the cancer at a curable stage, reducing the risk of dying.

Risks — The potential risk of Ovarian Cancer screening is having a false-positive screening test. This might lead to unnecessary Surgery for many healthy women. Surgery carries risks including anxiety, injury, costs, and time out of work, as well as a small risk of serious complications.

Prostate Cancer Screening

Cancer screening means looking for cancer before it causes symptoms. The goal of screening for Prostate Cancer is to find cancers that may be at high risk for spreading if not treated, and to find them early before they spread. If you are thinking about being screened, learn about the possible benefits and harms of screening, diagnosis, and treatment, and talk to your doctor about your personal risk factors. There is no standard test to screen for Prostate Cancer. Two tests that are commonly used to screen for Prostate Cancer are described below.

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA Test)

A Blood Test called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have Prostate Cancer. The PSA level may also be elevated in other conditions that affect the prostate. As a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present. But many factors, such as age and race, can affect PSA levels. Some prostate glands make more PSA than others.

PSA levels also can be affected by

  • Certain medical procedures.
  • Certain medications.
  • An enlarged prostate.
  • A prostate infection.

Because many factors can affect PSA levels, your doctor is the best person to interpret your PSA test results. If the PSA test is abnormal, your doctor may recommend a Biopsy to find out if you have Prostate Cancer.

Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)

Digital rectal examination (DRE) is when a health care provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into a man's rectum to feel the prostate for anything abnormal, such as cancer. In 2018, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force stated that it does not recommend DRE as a screening test because of lack evidence on the benefits."