Cancer occurs when natural cellular replication happens too fast, and cells divide more quickly than they should – or the cells do not die off and instead invade nearby tissues. Either scenario can form a tumor, and a tumor can be either benign (harmless) or malignant (fatal).
Although the word “cancer” does not usually strike the fear it once did, it still means a huge lifestyle change – and possibly many days filled with doctors’ appointments, chemotherapy, and/or radiation treatments, depending on how severe the cancer is.
As with any illness, early diagnosis is the most important factor in treating cancer successfully. Some cancers rarely or never show symptoms, and some symptoms of cancer can be mistaken for a different, harmless condition.
Classic Cancer Symptoms
Typical changes in the body that may be caused by cancer include:
- Persistent cough
- Noticeable change in bowel habits
- Blood in the stool
- Sudden headaches
- Changes in the skin
- Vision problems
- Problems thinking or speaking
- Strange lumps
- Swollen glands that don’t go away
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained sweats or fever
- Sores that don’t heal
- Excessive fatigue
- Unexplained pain
All of these symptoms listed above can also be caused by relatively harmless conditions. This often leads patients to ignore their symptoms or rationalize that it is something ordinary or benign.
That is why regular screenings and checkups are so important in preventing cancer. Most people do not go to the doctor at a slight sign of a problem, but they will get tested as a precaution.
These tests often find precursors or precancerous cells, so cancer can be prevented from developing. That is why early detection of cancer is so important.
Early Cancer Detection
Recognizing early-warning signs and seeing a doctor to check these signs increases the odds of overcoming cancer. It is also important to be aware of any family predisposition toward a specific type of cancer and to acknowledge any specific risk factors.
Monitor any unusual health symptoms that continue for more than two weeks. If they persist, seek a medical opinion.
Seeing a doctor for something that may turn out to be a harmless condition cannot hurt, but not seeing a doctor for a symptom that turns out to be cancer will only make you wish you had taken that simple step.
Some of the most important early-detection screening tests include:
- Pap smear (for women)
- PSA test (prostate-specific antigen test for men)
- Dermatology screenings
- Breast self-exams every month (for women)
- Annual breast exams by a gynecologist (for women)
It is also important to get an annual checkup by your primary care physician. The doctor knows what tests to have performed, such as blood tests, and these can detect cancer at an early stage.
Comprehensive Medical Care in Wooster
Nobody can remove a person’s genetic predisposition to cancer or other health conditions, so the best way to cut down those risks is by seeing a doctor regularly and to get the recommended screenings.
If you or a family member has been plagued by unusual health symptoms that won’t go away, make an appointment with one of our physicians at Wooster Community Hospital. Our doctors have access to everything necessary for screening and treating cancer and other health issues.
If you live in the Wooster, Ohio area, contact us by calling (330) 263-8100 or request an appointment online and get the answers you need.