Cancer signs and early detection

15 Cancer Symptoms Women Shouldn’t Ignore

Women’s bodies are always changing. Sometimes changes that seem normal can be signs of cancer, though.

The key is to pay attention to your body so you can notice when something’s different, says Robyn Andersen, PhD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. “New symptoms indicate something has changed in your body, and you want to know what that means.”

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Dr. Stegall’s Comments: The overall theme here is to have a high degree of body awareness. Women tend to be better than men are at this, but even most women can improve on this. Get comfortable looking at yourself in the mirror. How does your skin look? Any new moles or bumps? Do your breasts look or feel different? Do you have any new aches or pains? Has your menstrual cycle changed? Being “in tune” with your body and how it normally functions is essential in recognizing when something is abnormal. While the symptoms in this article don’t necessarily mean you have cancer, having a high index of suspicion is still necessary so we don’t miss something that could represent a larger problem.

 


15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore

You eat pretty well (some days) and work out (most days). But if you’re like a lot of men, a trip to the doctor isn’t on your to-do list. That can be bad if it means you brush off early signs of cancer.

One of the best ways to fight the disease is to catch it in the early stages, when it’s more treatable. The problem is that the warning signs for many kinds of cancer can seem pretty mild.

Take a look at these 15 signs and symptoms. Some are linked more strongly to cancer than others, but all are worth knowing about — and even talking over with your doctor.

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Dr. Stegall’s Comments: Let’s be honest – most men only go to the doctor if they have chest pain or erectile dysfunction. Otherwise, “I’m fine” is the usual conclusion. While there is no need to needlessly worry, the advice above about becoming more self-aware still applies. Become an expert on your body and how it works, because catching a problem early is far better than discovering it later. Do not explain away changes in your body as simply “getting older.” Strive to minimize these age-related changes through proper diet, exercise, and supplementation, as well as being proactive about your health.

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What do Medical Tests for Cancer Detect?

The technical term for the things that are measured is a combination of the words ‘biological’ and ‘marker’ – biomarker.

The term biomarker “refers to a broad subcategory of medical signs – that is, objective indications of medical state observed from outside the patient – which can be measured accurately and reproducibly.”1 They include simple things like taking a person’s pulse, listening to their heartbeat, or taking a blood pressure reading. Some detection and diagnosis tests, like the ones just mentioned, are not invasive. Others involve the examination of samples of blood or tissue from the patient.

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Dr. Stegall’s Comments: The lab tests discussed in this article are important, and any oncologist will typically use them to monitor response to treatment (thus, they are informally called “tumor markers”). Although they have the advantage of being readily available and fairly inexpensive, these tests can also be misleading because increases can mean that cancer has progressed or that there is tumor die-off from treatment. I use tumor markers in my practice, but I do not rely solely on them.

In integrative oncology, we use all of the appropriate tools at our disposal. For monitoring cancer progression and response to treatment, I believe that tumor markers should be used along with blood testing for circulating tumor cells (CTCs), which not only tell us about the tumor but also about the systemic burden of cancer. Monitoring these CTCs is essential in my opinion. We also must take advantage of all appropriate imaging modalities, such as conventional tests such as PET scans, CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds, as well as alternative imaging modalities such as thermography. By using all of these tools, as appropriate, we feel that we have a much better handle on what is going on inside the body.