Prognosis after cancer treatment depends upon final stage of the lesion. Early stage will have excellent 5 years survival. Also the extent of treatment of early disease will be limited and will be associated with minimal deformity and compromise in function. Most of the time single modality treatment is required either surgery or radiation. But question arises how to detect these lesions at early stage.
There are different methods available to detect cancer at early stage. But, most important things are knowledge and awareness about the signs and symptoms of different cancers. This does not apply only to each individual and society but also to the health professionals and paramedics. For example, oral cavity is easily accessible organ. Any white or red patch, ulcer or growth can be easily examined either by patients or their treating physicians, but due to lack of awareness, these patients will be treated by antibiotics or antifungals for long time leading to late presentation. On patient part, even if advised about biopsy of these lesions they refuse and go for alternative methods of treatment as they do not accept the fact that they have cancer and comes back when lesion is incurable. Oral cancer is one of the most common cancer among indian males due to rampant use of tobacco use, most of these patients present late even if mouth is easily accessible and can be examined very easily. Similarly, any recent onset breast lump should be examined by surgeon and should be investigated by ultrasound, mammogram or cytology/biopsy in case of clinical suspicion. These are the symptoms if persist for more than 2 weeks, require very high index of suspicion:
- Nonhealing ulcer, white or red patch in mouth
- Swelling in neck
- Bleeding from mouth or nose
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Change in voice
- Persistent cough, hemoptysis
- Blood in stool or black tarry stool
- Alteration in bowel habits
- Recent onset lump in breast, bloody nipple discharge
- Postmenopausal bleeding per vagina
There are methods available through which cancer can be detected early. Clinical examination and screening mammogram for more than 50 years old ladies for breast cancer, pap smear for cervical cancer, stool occult blood for colon cancer, etc. There is an urgent need for public awareness about early signs and symptoms of cancer so that cancer can be detected at early stage and life can be saved.