In most cases, cancer shows some symptoms early on, so it can be detected whether through screening or by visiting a specialist.
However, there are some cases when cancer stays hidden, with no outward symptoms until it has advanced to a late stage. By that time, the options available to you may be limited, but they are by no means depleted.
Professionals at Odonate share some insight into how advanced cancer is detected, as well as what kinds of treatments are available to those afflicted.
Symptoms of Advanced Cancer
There are some changes you may notice in your body which may indicate that you have advanced cancer. Of course, there could be other explanations as well, but cancer should not be ruled out either.
Feeling weak or tired all the time even if you’ve not done anything to feel that exhausted might be the first indication. If you start needing help while doing everyday tasks, that should ring an alarm bell that something is wrong.
If you add shortness of breath to the previous symptom, the case becomes more obvious.
However, one of the most recognizable symptoms of cancer is involuntary weight loss. If you experience these symptoms, it is important to visit your general practitioner and have a physical examination.
Your doctor should be able to give you a physical which can point to some more serious problems. Common indications that you may be having an advanced cancer are fluids in your lungs or abdomen and lumps which were previously not there.
Other, less common problems may include a swollen liver and pain in your legs. Even if they are not symptoms of advanced cancer, you still need to see a specialist and solve the underlying problem, no matter what it is.
Advanced Cancer Testing
If you or your doctor have reasons to believe that it is cancer that is causing your symptoms, you need to have the issue explored in more detail by running some tests.
The simplest and sometimes the most effective test is a blood test. Certain types of cancers cause our blood to be unbalanced, and these tests can pick up on that. What’s more, cancer can also create substances in our blood which we call tumor markers. If you have excess quantities of these substances in your blood, it is a clear sign that something is wrong.
Medical Imaging Techniques
Blood tests may be effective for certain types of cancer, but they are not all-powerful. That’s why we also have other methods of finding cancers. Imaging tests are one of those methods.
Different imaging tests are better at discovering different things, and some of them include radiation, which is why it is important to know what you are looking for. Typically, imaging tests are done only after the previous two groups of tests, as well as consultation with imaging experts.
X-rays are the simplest and the oldest imaging test we have, but it is used less and less to find cancer. Instead, we rely more heavily on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and Computed Tomography (CT).
Finally, if the imaging tests do find some abnormalities, that still doesn’t mean that you have cancer. Not all abnormalities are cancerous, but they still need to be inspected further.
The simplest way to do it is to take a sample of it and inspect it directly. This is called a biopsy. Even though it can sometimes be painful, it can tell the doctors in no uncertain terms if you have cancer or not.
Discovering that you have an advanced cancer is often difficult for people, but it is better to know and do something about it, rather than not know.