Sooner or later, cancer touches everyone. This year alone,
more than 850,000 people will be told they have cancer. At this rate, three
people in 10 will develop cancer and three families in four will be affected.
Although you cannot prevent cancer, you can reduce your risk
of developing cancer by recognizing its warning signs and seeing a physician
for early treatments. The most common warning signs of cancer are:
Change in bowel or bladder habits
A sore that does not heal
Unusual bleeding or discharge
Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere
Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
Obvious change in a wart or mole
Nagging cough or hoarseness
These signs and symptoms are not a sure sign of cancer. They
can be caused by cancer or by a number of other problems. However, it is important
to see a doctor if any problem lasts as long as two weeks. Don’t wait
for symptoms to become painful; pain is not an EARLY sign of cancer.
Physicians at Capital Region use some of the most advanced
equipment for the diagnosis of cancer:
In addition, they use a variety of tests such as biochemical
tumor markers, blood and urine tests to identify tumors. Tumor biopsies enable
physicians to accurately diagnose cancer and also can be used to test how cancerous
tissue will respond to certain types of therapy.
Today cancer patients have more choices in which treatment
or combination of treatments may be used. In order to determine which therapy
or combination of therapies is best for you, discuss your options with your
surgeon, oncologist or radiation oncologist.
Oncology, the control or cure of cancer, has three areas of
emphasis in cancer treatment:
After cancer is diagnosed, many people focus more of their
concern on the side effects of treatments, particularly chemotherapy, than on
the cancer itself. This concern is based on the way cancer was treated years
ago. Historically, cancer patients were turned over to the chemotherapist after
surgery, after radiation, after every available option had been exhausted.
Now, people are receiving chemotherapy as primary treatment
sooner – soon after the diagnosis. So, they are healthier and stronger
when they do start chemotherapy. In addition, oncologists now have the capability
of better controlling the side effects associated with cancer treatments. Patients
can tolerate the chemotherapy better. They don’t have the extent of side
effects, the drawn out recovery process between treatments or the fear of returning
for more chemotherapy.
New medications also stimulate white blood cell growth, which
allows patients to receive chemotherapy at optimum dose and without treatment
rescheduling. This permits an aggressive chemotherapy treatment and increases
the chances that a patient will have a positive response to the treatment and
beat the cancer.
Many patients receive radiation
therapy – a high-energy x-ray – to slow, stop or destroy cancer
cells so they are unable to grow and multiply. It can be used for delicate locations
such as the vocal cords and to control early cancers without surgery. It can
also be used to shrink a tumor before surgery or after surgery to destroy any
remaining cancer cells in the area. It is frequently used in conjunction with
chemotherapy to make both forms of treatment more effective.