Catching the early signs of cancer is difficult. While some of the symptoms can be mild, and you may think it’s nothing serious, in other cases, you may not have any symptoms. But symptoms and signs appear in many cancer cases. These symptoms are diverse and specific to the type of cancer one may have. We will talk about the early symptoms, diagnosis, and what to do next.
Some early warnings of cancer:
As said earlier, the symptoms are diverse and expressed in each person differently. So, you need to consult a doctor before taking any step. Just having the symptoms alone doesn’t mean you have this disease. Even the oncologist can confirm it after performing various diagnostic tests. But if you have any of these symptoms, you should seek a specialist’s advice. Below are some common symptoms of cancer.
- A new mole or change in an old one or any skin changes
- You may have a sore that doesn’t heal away
- You may notice a lump in your breast, a change in the skin color of your breast, or changes in the shape and size of the nipple or breast
- Change in the texture of your skin
- Unexplainable fatigue that doesn’t go away even after resting or a nap
- Any strange bleeding, discharge, or pus, like in the urine, from the vagina, in the stool, or while coughing
- You are losing weight even without trying
- Sudden and strange changes in bowel movements or habit
- A lump that hurts or grows
- A persistent cough
- Eating problems like loss of appetite, trouble swallowing food, nausea, vomiting, feeling uncomfortable after eating, etc
- Night sweats and chills
- Pain or burning sensation while peeing and having to pee frequently
- Pain in the abdomen
- Unexplainable and persistent fever
- Problems with vision or hearing
- Sores, numbness, bleeding, or pain in the mouth
- New pain that has no obvious reason but is getting worse
You should not panic if you have any of the above symptoms. Most times, these symptoms can occur due to a variety of reasons other than cancer. But if your symptoms do not fade out naturally in a couple of weeks, you should have a word with a doctor. Whatever may be the reason behind your symptoms, you need to find it out. It will ensure that you receive the proper diagnosis. Hence, your treatment can begin right away.
Diagnosis: Detecting and determining
If you have one or more symptoms, you might visit your doctor. Your doctor might ask you to do some tests if they suspect that your symptoms may be due to cancer. They might also prescribe a diagnostic test to rule out the possible causes of your symptoms. Apart from these tests, they will ask you a few questions. They will enquire about your family history of any serious illness, your lifestyle habits, etc. After performing a physical examination, you may have to do some tests too. There are many tests to diagnose cancer depending upon the type of cancer and your symptoms. We will go through some of these tests.
These include some simple tests like blood or urine tests. A blood test can reveal a lot about bodily functions. Any abnormalities can hint at an underlying disease. Various markers may indicate the presence of cancer in the body. However, these tests are not definitive tests for cancer detection.
Imaging tests can help form a picture or an image of the internal organs of the body. These tests can help get more detailed information than pathological tests. various imaging tests are:
X-rays: They can be used to create a three-dimensional image of the internal organs. The X-ray machine takes a series of images and is tethered to a computer that collects and analyses the data. The patient might have to take a special type of dye that can make the images clearer and easy to read.
PET scan: In this type of scan, the patient has to take a tracer through injection. When this tracer has spread, the PET machine generates three-dimensional images of the internal organs wherever the tracer has accumulated. This test can reveal how well our organs are functioning.
Nuclear scan: In this scan, just like a PET scan, a tracer is injected into the body. This tracer is radioactive. The tracer might get deposited in some body parts. A scanner can measure the radioactivity of these body parts to render the images.
Ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to generate the images of the organs. The ultrasound sound device sends the sound of a particular frequency that is inaudible to human ears. These sound waves bounce and create an echo. These echos are picked by the computer to generate the images.
MRI: Another imaging test used to generate images of the internal organs by using a strong magnet. These images are printed on a special film for further analysis and reference.
Biopsy scans: In this test, a small sample of the tumour is taken and is analysed under a microscope to find if it is cancerous. There are many types of biopsy scans, such as needle biopsy, endoscopic biopsy, and surgical biopsy.
You might have gained a bit of insight into the symptoms of cancer and how various tests can help diagnose this disease. These symptoms can happen due to a variety of reasons. So, don’t think that you have cancer just because you have some of these symptoms. But you should consult your doctor if symptoms last longer or worsen.
On the other hand, you may not develop any symptoms or very mild symptoms upon the onset of cancer. So, you should go for regular checkups. If you have a family history of any cancer, talk to a doctor to know all about your risks and what all tests and preventive measures you should adopt.