Cancer – the word itself instills a sense of fear – a fear of the unknown. What kind of cancer is it? What will it do to my body? How can its extent or spread be determined?
Half the battle in cancer can be won by early, correct, and timely detection.
Different Techniques for Cancer Detection
Cancer screening, at an individual level or a community level, is one of the first steps towards cancer detection. Screening is available for common cancers like breast cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, etc. They involve a general medical examination with some lab tests and imaging. Cancer screening is an effective tool for early detection of cancer.
Different cancers cause varied symptoms. However, some primary symptoms of concern include weight loss (i.e.,>10 kgs in 2 months), extreme fatigue, chronic cough, and chronic pains. If you feel you may have any such symptoms, seeing a specialist for further evaluation is vital.
As most aggressive cancers present late, screening and prevention is the key. The various screening tests include:
Cancer Detection for Women:
- Examination of the breast for lumps/bumps & skin changes
- Pap smear every 3-5 years after 21 yrs of age
- Mammogram every two years after 40 yrs of age
- Stool for occult blood
Cancer Detection For Men:
- PSA for Prostate Cancer after 40 yrs of age
- Colonoscopy every ten years after 50 yrs of age
These protocols may vary with significant family history.
A suspected diagnosis would require more extensive investigations. This is where technology starts to play an important role. Some of the tried and tested methods that help in the detection, diagnosis, and staging of cancer include computed tomography (CT scan), positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasonography, endoscopic examination, biopsy & histopathology, nuclear medicine, various blood tests and laboratory tests for tumor markers.
A combination of any of the above methodologies is usually used for the detection & diagnosis of cancer as well as for treatment planning. It may be of interest to note that these listed technologies have evolved greatly and continue to evolve, making cancer diagnosis more accurate. PET-CT and PET-MRI, the use of nanotechnology, the use of biomarkers, and testing for tissue markers are some examples of the advancements in technology.
Read Also: Newer Technologies for Cancer Treatment
Various cancer centres, research agencies, universities, medical imaging companies, etc. are involved in cutting edge research in the evolution of cancer detection techniques.
Doctor’s Expertise Is Paramount
However, what must be borne in mind is that irrespective of the technology used, the skill of an experienced oncologist is what matters most at the end of the day. A specialist skilled in his area of expertise as well as empathetic and compassionate towards his patients is the ultimate aim for the best results.
In conclusion, man and machine are required for timely and correct detection & diagnosis of cancer.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal views of HTW and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any governmental/other agency. This article contains facts that have been obtained from reliable sources but may be subject to change with time. The author will not be responsible in any way for the comments given by the reader/s.