Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

 

What are signs and symptoms?

Signs and symptoms are both signals of injury, illness, disease – signals that something is not right in the body.

A sign is a signal that can be seen by someone else – maybe a loved one, or a doctor, nurse, or other health care professional. For example, fever, fast breathing, and abnormal lung sounds heard through a stethoscope may be signs of pneumonia.

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A symptom is a signal that’s felt or noticed by the person who has it, but may not be easily seen by anyone else. For example, weakness, aching, and feeling short of breath may be symptoms of pneumonia.

Having one sign or symptom may not be enough to figure out what’s causing it. For example, a rash in a child could be a sign of a number of things, such as poison ivy, measles, a skin infection, or a food allergy. But if the child has the rash along with other signs and symptoms like a high fever, chills, achiness, and a sore throat, then a doctor can get a better picture of the illness. Sometimes, a patient’s signs and symptoms still don’t give the doctor enough clues to be sure what’s causing the illness. Then medical tests, such as x-rays, blood tests, or a biopsy may be needed.

How does cancer cause signs and symptoms?

Cancer is a group of diseases that can cause almost any sign or symptom. The signs and symptoms will depend on where the cancer is, how big it is, and how much it affects the organs or tissues. If a cancer has spread (metastasized), signs or symptoms may appear in different parts of the body.

As a cancer grows, it can begin to push on nearby organs, blood vessels, and nerves. This pressure causes some of the signs and symptoms of cancer. If the cancer is in a critical area, such as certain parts of the brain, even the smallest tumor can cause symptoms.

But sometimes cancer starts in places where it won’t cause any signs or symptoms until it has grown quite large. Cancers of the pancreas, for example, usually don’t cause symptoms until they grow large enough to press on nearby nerves or organs (this causes back or belly pain). Others may grow around the bile duct and block the flow of bile. This causes the eyes and skin to look yellow (jaundice). By the time a pancreatic cancer causes signs or symptoms like these, it’s usually in an advanced stage. This means it has grown and spread beyond the place it started – the pancreas.

A cancer may also cause symptoms like fever, extreme tiredness (fatigue), or weight loss. This may be because cancer cells use up much of the body’s energy supply, or they may release substances that change the way the body makes energy from food. Cancer can also cause the immune system to react in ways that produce these signs and symptoms.

Sometimes, cancer cells release substances into the bloodstream that cause symptoms that are not usually linked to cancer. For example, some cancers of the pancreas can release substances that cause blood clots in veins of the legs. Some lung cancers make hormone-like substances that raise blood calcium levels. This affects nerves and muscles, making the person feel weak and dizzy.

How are signs and symptoms helpful?

Treatment works best when cancer is found early – while it’s still small and is less likely to have spread to other parts of the body. This often means a better chance for a cure, especially if the cancer can be removed with surgery.

A good example of the importance of finding cancer early is melanoma skin cancer. It can be easy to remove if it has not grown deep into the skin. The 5-year survival rate (percentage of people who live at least 5 years after diagnosis) at this early stage is around 98%. Once melanoma has spread to other parts of the body, the 5-year survival rate drops to about 16%.

Sometimes people ignore symptoms. Maybe they don’t know that the symptoms could mean something is wrong. Or they might be frightened by what the symptoms could mean and 

don’t want to get medical help. Maybe they just can’t afford to get medical care.

Some symptoms, such as tiredness or coughing, are more likely caused by something other than cancer. Symptoms can seem unimportant, especially if there’s a clear cause or the problem only lasts a short time. In the same way, a person may reason that a symptom like a breast lump is probably a cyst that will go away by itself. But no symptom should be ignored or overlooked, especially if it has lasted a long time or is getting worse.

Most likely, symptoms are not caused by cancer, but it’s important to have them checked out, just in case. If cancer is not the cause, a doctor can help figure out what the cause is and treat it, if needed.

Sometimes, it’s possible to find cancer before having symptoms. The American Cancer Society and other health groups recommend cancer-related check-ups and certain tests for people even though they have no symptoms. This helps find certain cancers early, before symptoms start. For more information on early detection tests, see our document called American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer. But keep in mind, even if you have these recommended tests, it’s still important to see a doctor if you have any symptoms.

What are some general signs and symptoms of cancer?

You should know some of the general signs and symptoms of cancer. But remember, having any of these does not mean that you have cancer – many other things cause these signs and symptoms, too. If you have any of these symptoms and they last for a long time or get worse, please see a doctor to find out what’s going on.

Unexplained weight loss

Most people with cancer will lose weight at some point. When you lose weight for no known reason, it’s called an unexplained weight loss. An unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more may be the first sign of cancer. This happens most often with cancers of the pancreas, stomach, esophagus (swallowing tube), or lung.

Fever

Fever is very common with cancer, but it more often happens after cancer has spread from where it started. Almost all people with cancer will have fever at some time, especially if the cancer or its treatment affects the immune system. (This can make it harder for the body to fight infection.) Less often, fever may be an early sign of cancer, such as blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma.

Fatigue

Fatigue is extreme tiredness that doesn’t get better with rest. It may be an important symptom as cancer grows. But it may happen early in some cancers, like leukemia. Some colon or stomach cancers can cause blood loss that’s not obvious. This is another way cancer can cause fatigue.

Pain

Pain may be an early symptom with some cancers like bone cancers or testicular cancer. A headache that does not go away or get better with treatment may be a symptom of a brain tumor. Back pain can be a symptom of cancer of the colon, rectum, or ovary. Most often, pain due to cancer means it has already spread (metastasized) from where it started.

Skin changes

Along with skin cancers, some other cancers can cause skin changes that can be seen. These signs and symptoms include:

  • Darker looking skin (hyperpigmentation)
  • Yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Reddened skin (erythema)
  • Itching (pruritis)
  • Excessive hair growth

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Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment at World Top Cancer Hospitals in India

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment in India

Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which normal cells in the pancreas malfunction and begin to grow uncontrollably. These cancerous cells can eventually interfere with proper functioning of the pancreas and metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body.

The pancreas is a pear-shaped gland located in the abdomen between the stomach and the spine. It is about 6 inches in length and is composed of two major components: exocrine and enpancreatic-cancerdocrine. The exocrine component, made up of ducts and acini (small sacs on the end of the ducts), produce enzymes, which are specialized proteins released into the small intestine that help the body digest and break down food, particularly fats. It is the cells lining these pancreatic ducts that most frequently turn cancerous. These are called ductal adenocarcinomas of the pancreas and represent the most common subtype of pancreatic cancer.

Types of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer can be categorized into different types that depend on whether or not the cancer began in the endocrine or exocrine component. Pancreatic cancer types include

Endocrine Tumors : Endocrine tumors also referred to as pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) or islet cell tumors are not so common as compared to exocrine tumors. A pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor could be non-functioning that means it does not make any hormones or it could also be functioning that means it can make hormones. The base of a functioning neuroendocrine tumor is on the hormone that cells usually make –

  • PPomas
  • Insulinoma
  • VIPomas
  • Gastrinoma
  • Glucagonoma
  • Somatostatinoma

Exocrine Tumors: They are considered as the most common type of pancreatic cancer. Adenocarcinoma that begins in gland cells is mostly seen in around 95% people who are suffering from pancreatic cancer. Ductal Adenocarcinoma is the ducts of the pancreas from where the tumor typically begins. Rarely when tumor starts in the acini then it is termed as acinar Adenocarcinoma.

Some of the other rare tumors of the pancreas are –

  • Lymphoma
  • Acinar Cell Carcinomas
  • Cystic Tumors
  • Neuroendocrine tumors

Pancreatic Cancer – Symptoms and Signs.

  • Yellow skin and eyes, darkening of the urine, itching, and clay-colored stool, which are signs of jaundice caused by a blockage of the bile ducts
  • Pain in upper abdomen or upper back
  • Painful swelling of an arm or leg due to a blood clot
  • Burning feeling in stomach or other gastrointestinal discomforts
  • Stomach bloating
  • Floating stools with a particularly bad odor and an unusual color due to the body not digesting fats well
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Unexplained weight loss

How Pancreatic Cancer is Diagnosed?

  • Computed tomography (CT scan): A scanner takes multiple X-ray pictures, and a computer reconstructs them into detailed images of the inside of the abdomen. A CT scan helps doctors make a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Using magnetic waves, a scanner creates detailed images of the abdomen, in particular the area around the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder.
  • Ultrasound : Harmless sound waves reflected off organs in the belly create images, potentially helping doctors make a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET scan): Radioactive glucose injected into the veins is absorbed by cancer cells. PET scans may help determine the degree of pancreatic cancer spread.
  • Percutaneous needle biopsy : Under imaging guidance, a radiologist inserts a needle into the mass, capturing some tissue. This procedure is also called a fine needle aspiration (FNA).
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): A flexible tube with a camera and other tools on its end (endoscope) is put through the mouth to the small intestine, near the pancreas. ERCP can collect images from the area, as well as take a small biopsy with a brush.
  • Endoscopic ultrasound : Similar to ERCP, an endoscope is placed near the pancreas. An ultrasound probe on the endoscope locates the mass, and a needle on the endoscope plucks some tissue from the mass.
  • Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure that uses several small incisions. Using laparoscopy, a surgeon can collect tissue for biopsy, as well as see inside the abdomen to determine if pancreatic cancer has spread. However, laparoscopy has higher risks than other biopsy approaches.

Stages of Pancreatic Cancer
Stage is a term used in cancer treatment to describe the extent of spread of the cancer. The stages of pancreatic cancer are used to guide treatment and to classify patients for clinical trials. The stages of pancreatic cancer are:

  • Stage 0 : No spread. Pancreatic cancer is limited to a single layer of cells in the pancreas. The pancreatic cancer is not visible on imaging tests or even to the naked eye.
  • Stage I : Local growth. Pancreatic cancer is limited to the pancreas, but has grown to less than 2 centimeters across (stage IA) or greater than 2 centimeters (stage IB).
  • Stage II : Local spread. Pancreatic cancer has grown outside the pancreas, or has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage III : Wider spread. The tumor has expanded into nearby major blood vessels or nerves but has not metastasized.
  • Stage IV : Confirmed spread. Pancreatic cancer has spread to distant organs.

 

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Pancreatic Cancer Treatment at World Top Cancer Hospitals in India

Esophageal Cancer Treatment in India

Esophageal Cancer : What It Means?

Cancer that forms in tissues lining the esophagus (the muscular tube through which food passes from the throat to the stomach). Two types of esophageal cancer are squamous cell carcinoma (cancer that begins in flat cells lining the esophagus) and adenocarcinoma (cancer that begins in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids). Esophageal cancer has been categorized into two types that include :3608271681c60473ca2e5fe548dbe071d54af407

Adenocarcinoma : This type of esophageal cancer starts in the glandular tissue in the lower part of the esophagus. The stomach and the esophagus appear together in this lower part of esophagus.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma : Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the squamous cells lining the esophagus. This type of esophageal cancer typically occurs in the middle and upper part of the esophagus.

Early esophageal cancer usually does not cause symptoms. However, as the cancer grows, symptoms may include painful or difficulty in swallowing, weight loss and coughing up blood. Risk factors for developing esophageal cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • Heavy Drinking
  • Damage from acid reflux
  • Frequent choking while eating
  • Chest burning, pain or pressure

Stages of Esophageal Cancer

If the diagnosis is esophageal cancer, the doctor needs to learn the stage (or extent) of disease. Staging is a careful attempt to find out whether the cancer has spread and, if so, to what parts of the body. Knowing the stage of the disease helps the doctor plan treatment. Listed below are descriptions of the four stages of esophageal cancer.

  • Stage I. The cancer is found only in the top layers of cells lining the esophagus.
  • Stage II. The cancer involves deeper layers of the lining of the esophagus, or it has spread to nearby lymph nodes. The cancer has not spread to other parts of the body.
  • Stage III. The cancer has invaded more deeply into the wall of the esophagus or has spread to tissues or lymph nodes near the esophagus. It has not spread to other parts of the body.
  • Stage IV. The cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Esophageal cancer can spread almost anywhere in the body, including the liver, lungs, brain, and bones.

Treatment and Diagnosis:

Diagnosing Esophageal Cancer

To help find the cause of symptoms, the doctor evaluates a person’s medical history and performs a physical exam. The doctor usually orders a chest x-ray and other diagnostic tests. These tests may include the following:

  • A barium swallow (also called an esophagram) is a series of x-rays of the esophagus. The patient drinks a liquid containing barium, which coats the inside of the esophagus. The barium makes any changes in the shape of the esophagus show up on the x-rays.
  • Esophagoscopy (also called endoscopy) is an examination of the inside of the esophagus using a thin lighted tube called an endoscope.images123 An anesthetic (substance that causes loss of feeling or awareness) is usually used during this procedure. If an abnormal area is found, the doctor can collect cells and tissue through the endoscope for examination under a microscope. This is called a biopsy. A biopsy can show cancer, tissue changes that may lead to cancer, or other conditions.

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Esophageal Cancer Treatment in India