Cancer, lately, has become one of the major menaces to human life. Cancer when detected early increases the chances of successful treatment and hence prolongs the overall survival. Diagnosing it at an early stage before it has spread or it is too big increases the chances of successful treatment. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread and is difficult to treat. This can be done by two methods-cancer screening and recognition of the possible warning signs of cancer.
Screening for Cancer:
Screening means testing your body for cancer to identify individuals who have the disease but do not have any symptoms. Screening tests are particularly helpful in detecting breast, cervical, colorectal cancers early. Examples include mammography for breast cancer and pap smears (cervical cytology) for cervical cancer.
Complications due to opting for cancer screening at later stages:
More than 90% of the patients with breast, ovarian and bowel cancer have better survival rate compared to those diagnosed with advanced disease. Most of the cancers are diagnosed at a later stage.
The most important reason for the delay in diagnosis is the lack of awareness of cancer signs and symptoms. Due to this lack of awareness people do not consult the doctor and hence there is a delay in diagnosis.
When diagnosed at a later stage there are lesser chances of survival. Some early signs of cancer include lumps, sores that fail to heal, abnormal bleeding, abnormal discharge from the vagina, bleeding after menopause (cessation of periods), persistent indigestion, change in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite or weakness and chronic hoarseness. This is known as development of cancer consciousness which is the constant alertness to suspect cancer when certain signs and symptoms appear.
Having these warning signs do not always mean that you have cancer. It only means that you should get evaluated yourself by your doctor at the earliest.