UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Depending on the area of damage, the development of a malignant neoplasm can be accompanied by a variety of symptoms. In addition, most oncological diseases can be asymptomatic for a long time. Often, the patient may have a fairly common tumor process, but not have any specific complaints.
According to the American Cancer Society’s annual statistics, cancer deaths in the United States have been declining over the course of several decades. Between 1991 and 2015, the cancer mortality rate in the population decreased by 26%.
One of the main reasons for this is the early diagnosis of such diseases. Is it possible to suspect and recognize the symptoms of cancer at an early stage? What is worth paying attention to? We deal with Andrei Pylev, an oncologist, candidate of medical sciences, and the chief physician of the European Clinic.
There are two categories of signs of cancer. The first is the so-called syndrome of small symptoms, common symptoms that do not indicate a specific disease, but rather indicate the presence of a problem in general. Such symptoms include weakness, weight loss, fatigue, loss of appetite (or an aversion to certain foods that is inherent in cancer), and anemia.
The second category includes symptoms that develop depending on the location of the primary or metastatic tumor.
- Headache is the first and sometimes the only sign of the oncological process in the brain. In addition to pain, depending on the affected area, certain functions (speech, motor, swallowing) may also be impaired;
- Impaired swallowing may be a manifestation of laryngeal cancer, which may also be accompanied by impaired voice. As the tumor grows, the patient may feel a foreign body that prevents swallowing;
- Violation of the passage of food can signal damage to the esophagus. With cancer of the esophagus, a person may feel pain and inconvenience when passing food through it;
- Pain in the stomach may indicate cancer of the stomach or pancreas. Also, a tumor of this localization can be accompanied by nausea and weight loss;
- Bloating and stool disorder (alternating diarrhea and prolonged constipation) accompany intestinal tumors. The disease can also be accompanied by a feeling of heaviness in the abdomen or the appearance of blood in the feces, depending on which site is affected;
- Coughing and shortness of breath are the main symptoms of lung cancer. At an early stage, in addition to general symptoms, only a dry and unobtrusive cough is noted. As the tumor spreads, the cough becomes nasal and is accompanied by hemoptysis;
- Jaundice (pathological discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes due to the accumulation of bilirubin) is the first clinical symptom in a tumor of the liver, pancreas and biliary tract;
- Lumbar pain can be caused by kidney cancer;
- Blood in the urine can be a sign of cancer of the urinary system: bladder, kidney, prostate;
- Difficulty urinating can be a symptom of problems with the bladder and prostate;
Skin changes . Large moles and pigment spots of irregular shape or heterogeneous structure require special attention, they can be a manifestation of one of the forms of melanoma;
- Back pain can be a sign of not only osteochondrosis, but also metastatic vertebral lesions.
The presence of certain symptoms is not necessarily a sign of a tumor, but should be an occasion to consult a doctor. It is important to remember that in the early stages the disease does not manifest itself in any way, therefore it is necessary to undergo preventive examinations annually.
As part of the medical examination, it is necessary to take urine and blood tests, undergo fluorography or an x-ray of the chest, an ultrasound of the abdominal organs, men to visit a urologist, women a gynecologist, as well as an ultrasound of the pelvic organs and an examination of the mammary glands. After 40 years, it is also recommended to undergo gastro and colonoscopy.
All these examinations reveal an early stage malignant tumor in 95% of cases. For example, the growth of some uncharacteristic indicators of a blood test allows you to identify pathology even by accident.
With a preventive examination, it makes no sense to conduct computed and magnetic resonance imaging ( CT and MRI ). They are assigned only to clarify the diagnosis. For example, with CT, a contrast agent is used, which makes it possible to contour the neoplasm. To get the correct diagnosis, you need to know which substance and method to use.
Analysis of tumor markers is also only a clarifying diagnostic method. It is based on the detection in the blood of chemicals that secrete tumor cells. The only specific marker that is used in some cases for screening is the prostatic specific antigen (PSA), which rises in men with prostate cancer. Women are often prescribed an assay for CA-125, which rises with ovarian cancer.
- Tests for tumor markers should be done if there is a suspicion of a disease, and not start with them.
There is no unique test that could show the presence of a particular type of cancer, since the level of markers can be increased in some non-cancerous conditions.
Among the main risk factors for the development of cancer, smoking, malnutrition, overweight, a sedentary lifestyle, infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) , hereditary predisposition. To reduce the likelihood of developing cancer, you should abandon bad habits, eat right and exercise.
It is worth remembering that regular monitoring of the state of health allows you to identify pathology even before the onset of symptoms. And early diagnosis of cancer and treatment under the supervision of a specialist increase the chances of a full recovery.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.
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