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Cancer Detection and Treatment

Sooner or later, cancer touches everyone. This year alone, more than 850,000 people will be told they have cancer. At this rate, three people in 10 will develop cancer and three families in four will be affected.

Detection

Although you cannot prevent cancer, you can reduce your risk of developing cancer by recognizing its warning signs and seeing a physician for early treatments. The most common warning signs of cancer are:

  • Change in bowel or bladder habits
  • A sore that does not heal
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge
  • Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere
  • Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
  • Obvious change in a wart or mole
  • Nagging cough or hoarseness

These signs and symptoms are not a sure sign of cancer. They can be caused by cancer or by a number of other problems. However, it is important to see a doctor if any problem lasts as long as two weeks. Don’t wait for symptoms to become painful; pain is not an EARLY sign of cancer.

Cancer Diagnostics

Physicians at Capital Region use some of the most advanced equipment for the diagnosis of cancer:

  • Computerized tomography
  • Video fluoroscopy
  • Ultrasound
  • X-ray
  • Radiology
  • Endoscopy
  • Mammography
  • PET/CT

In addition, they use a variety of tests such as biochemical tumor markers, blood and urine tests to identify tumors. Tumor biopsies enable physicians to accurately diagnose cancer and also can be used to test how cancerous tissue will respond to certain types of therapy.

Cancer Treatment

Today cancer patients have more choices in which treatment or combination of treatments may be used. In order to determine which therapy or combination of therapies is best for you, discuss your options with your surgeon, oncologist or radiation oncologist.

Oncology, the control or cure of cancer, has three areas of emphasis in cancer treatment:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Biological treatment

Chemotherapy

After cancer is diagnosed, many people focus more of their concern on the side effects of treatments, particularly chemotherapy, than on the cancer itself. This concern is based on the way cancer was treated years ago. Historically, cancer patients were turned over to the chemotherapist after surgery, after radiation, after every available option had been exhausted.

Now, people are receiving chemotherapy as primary treatment sooner – soon after the diagnosis. So, they are healthier and stronger when they do start chemotherapy. In addition, oncologists now have the capability of better controlling the side effects associated with cancer treatments. Patients can tolerate the chemotherapy better. They don’t have the extent of side effects, the drawn out recovery process between treatments or the fear of returning for more chemotherapy.

New medications also stimulate white blood cell growth, which allows patients to receive chemotherapy at optimum dose and without treatment rescheduling. This permits an aggressive chemotherapy treatment and increases the chances that a patient will have a positive response to the treatment and beat the cancer.

Many patients receive radiation therapy – a high-energy x-ray – to slow, stop or destroy cancer cells so they are unable to grow and multiply. It can be used for delicate locations such as the vocal cords and to control early cancers without surgery. It can also be used to shrink a tumor before surgery or after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells in the area. It is frequently used in conjunction with chemotherapy to make both forms of treatment more effective.