Young woman in bed suffering from cancer. Thoughtful woman battling with tumor looking out of window. Young patient with blue headscarf recovery in hospital on bed.

HOW LONG CAN YOU HAVE CANCER WITHOUT KNOWING ABOUT IT?

There are two types of solid tumors, one is cancerous, known as malignant and the other is non- cancerous, known as benign. When the cancerous tumors spreads into the nearby tissues in our body, they begin to grow and some of the cells travel to the other parts of the body and form called ‘secondary’ tumors, theses are known as metastases. These solid malignant tumors are known as carcinomas- cancers that start in the liver or kidneys, and sarcomas- cancers that form in the muscles, bones and nerves.

The five main types of cancers are—Carcinoma, Sarcoma, Myeloma, Leukemia and Lymphoma. Apart from these there are some cancers which are undetected.

The common cancers can go undetected sometimes until they reach the 3rd or 4th stages. These tumors are known as ‘late stage’ cancers. They are the most dangerous forms of cancer. These can be the cancers of the Lung, Ovarian, colorectal, cervical and breast. Some of these cancers can grow undetected for 10 years or more.

Undetected Lung Cancer: Most of the lung cancers go undetected, as they do not cause any symptoms until they spread. Sometimes even a chest x-ray which is usually the first test also does not show any signs of cancer. If a person continues to have cough, severe tiredness, loss of appetite and if fluid builds up around the lungs. If detected at an early stage can be cured.

Undetected Ovarian Cancer: This cancer also goes undetected until it has spread to the pelvis and abdomen. It can go undetected for more than 10 years because of the size, until it grows to the size of a large grape. The late symptoms can be abdominal pain, pain in the kidney, weight loss, frequent urination, constipation.

Undetected Colorectal Cancer: Many a times colorectal cancer can also go undetected .People above 50 years, if you find blood in the stool; if it is in the family ; abdominal pain, continuous weight loss ; and if you become anemic; better consult a doctor immediately. Early detection can cure it, otherwise it’s risky.

Undetected Cervical Cancer:  Often cervical cancer goes undetected as symptoms are very less. It starts as an abnormal growth in the cells, which are not cancerous and slowly spread into the bladder, intestines, lungs, and liver. This can take years to change to cervical cancer.  After a certain age if pap smear is done regularly, it can be detected early and treated.

Undetected Breast Cancer: Sometimes even after a doctor examines the lump in a woman’s breast, breast cancer can go undetected, as symptoms vary from person to person, even if the symptoms like hard lump, pain in the breast and nipple, skin irritation and so on are there but still it can go undetected, if proper tests are not done, if the results are not read correctly and if the files get exchanged, it goes undetected. Early detection and treatment can save a patient’s life.

Characteristics of undetected cancers:

There are different characteristics of undetected cancers that should not be neglected and these warnings signs must be taken up seriously:

  • If any part of the body thickens or a lump grows
  • If a sore continues to bleed,
  • If any opening in the body begins to bleed or any form of discharge is there from it.
  • If there is a change in bowel or bladder habits.
  • If a cough continues and the voice turns hoarse.
  • If there is a swallowing and digestion problem,
  • If the mole on the skin changes.
  • If an ulcer tumour smells unpleasant.

If these above symptoms are found, it’s better to see a doctor immediately.

Hardest Cancer to detect:

One of the most dangerous type of cancer is Pancreatic Cancer, because it spreads rapidly and there is no method that it can be detected early. There are no specific symptoms until later stages, as it grows silently and is painless.

Symptoms:

  •  Pancreatic cancer block the duct that releases bile into the intestine and it builds up into the blood and the skin and eyes turn yellow causing Jaundice.
  •  Abdominal and back pain that comes and goes.
  • Nausea, vomiting, bloating of the abdomen after eating.
  •  Sometimes with all these symptoms also a person may or may not have pancreatic cancer.

TYPES OF CANCER:

CARCINOMA

This is the most common cancer. It starts in the tissue of the skin that lines the internal organs of the liver or kidneys. This cancer either stays at its primary location where it has started or can also spread to the other parts of the body.

Symptoms : Causes can be exposure to the sun and usage of  tanning beds.

  • A small bump like growth on the skin, in the color of pink, black or brown.
  • A pimple or a mole that does not go away.
  • A waxy, hard growth on the skin.

Treatment: Usage of creams, pills, surgery or radiation therapy.

LEUKEMIA

This is a life threatening malignant disorder of the blood and the bone. This cancer mostly occurs in adolescents and young adults. This disease affects the blood forming tissues of the bone marrow, lymph nodes and the spleen.

Symptoms –weakness, spending most of the sleeping, weight loss, no appetite, and no proper concentration.

TreatmentChemotherapy is the major treatment. The drug kills the leukemia cells. The other treatments are biological therapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplant and so on.

SARCOMA

This is considered to be the IV stage of cancer, when it spreads to distant parts of the body. At this stage it’s rarely curable. If the primary tumor and all the areas it has spread if it can be removed by surgery, it’s curable.

Sarcomas start in the bone or muscle or in soft tissues like fat, nerves blood vessels, deep skin and fibrous tissues.

Treatments– chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery.

MYELOMA

This cancer forms in white blood cell also known as plasma cell. The plasma cell fights infections by making antibodies and attack germs.

Symptoms: Fatigue, pain, loss of appetite constipation and vomiting.

Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, bone marrow transplant and biological therapy.

LYMPHOMA

This is a cancer which can spread in any part of the body. It a part of the germ-fighting network in the body- lymph glands, spleen, bone marrow or in any part of the body.

Symptoms: Painless swelling- neck, armpits or groin. Fever, tiredness, breathlessness, weight loss, itchy skin.

Treatment– Chemotherapy, medication, radiation therapy and rarely stem-cell transplant. 

Any type of cancer if detected earlier can be treated and follow up sessions with the treating doctor is a must.

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