Cancer symptoms are changes in the body caused by the presence of cancer. They are usually caused by the effect of a cancer on the part of the body where it is growing, although the disease can cause more general symptoms such as weight loss or tiredness. There are more than 100 different types of cancer with a wide range of different signs and symptoms which can manifest in different ways.
Typical symptoms of cancer include:
The presence of an unusual lump in the body
Changes in a mole on the skin, such as size, color or shape thickness
A persistent cough or hoarseness
A change in bowel habits, such as unusual diarrhea or constipation
Difficulty in swallowing or continuing indigestion
Any abnormal bleeding, including bleeding from the vagina, or blood in urine or faeces
A persistent sore or ulcer
Difficulty passing urine
Unexplained weight loss
Unexplained tiredness or fatigue
Skin changes such as an unexplained rash or unusual texture
Unexplained night sweats
One of the key problems in the treatment of cancer is the early detection of the disease. Often, cancer is detected in its later stages, when it has compromised the function of one or more vital organ systems and is widespread throughout the body. Methods for the early detection of cancer are of utmost importance and are an active area of current research.
After the initial detection of a cancerous growth, accurate diagnosis and staging of the disease are essential for the design of a treatment plan. This process is dependent on clinical testing and the observations of physicians. It is important for cancer patients and their families to understand the results given to them so that they can take an active role in the planning of the treatment protocol to be used.
This section includes information on some of the methods used to detect cancer. Also discussed are some possible tests that are still under investigation. You can also find information on the results presented in pathology (path.) reports and a section that describes the process of cancer staging.
Because no test is 100% accurate, it is important to understand the limitations of medical tests. The limitations of any particular medical test are described by its sensitivity and specificity and false positive/false negative rates.