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:
- Computed tomography.
- Video fluoroscopy.
- 3D mammography.
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 a 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 five areas of emphasis in cancer treatment:
- Hormone therapy.
- Biological treatment.
- Radiation therapy.
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, radiation and 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 an 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.