Cancer can be detected by cytology tests such as pap smears, X-rays, imaging techniques such as mammograms, and chemical markers in the blood—for example, prostate-specific antigen, which can identify otherwise undetectable prostate cancer. Often, however,
Although many of these symptoms may not necessarily be indicative of cancer, it is wise to consult a doctor about any of the following.
• Persistent lump or thickening anywhere on the skin or in a testicle or breast.
• Unexplained swelling of a limb.
• Enlargement, bleeding, irritation or other change in the appearance of a mole.
• Severe recurrent headaches.
• Difficulty in swallowing.
• Hoarseness that lasts for more than a month.
• Difficulty in passing urine.
• Unexplained weight loss of more than about 1 lb (0.5 kg) a week.
• Unusual bleeding from the mouth, nipples, anus, or genitals, or the coughing up of blood.
• Bleeding from the vagina between menstrual periods and altered bleeding during them.
• Persistent indigestion.
• Abdominal pain or change in bowel habits unrelated to dietary changes.
diagnosis of cancer follows the appearance of symptoms, and is confirmed by a biopsy.
In most cases, treatment involves radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or surgery, or a combination of these. Radiotherapy uses radiation to reduce and destroy tumors and cancer cells that have spread beyond the original tumor or traveled to other parts of the body (metastasis). Chemotherapy has the same aim, but uses anticancer drugs. Surgery removes the primary tumor. The principal aim of conventional methods is to suppress the rate of growth of the cancer. They are more effective with cancers in certain parts of the body than in others.
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