Unless someone in the family or circle of close friends has cancer, the extent of knowledge for most people consists of information that fits in an awareness brochure at the medical office. The most common types, such as breast, lung, prostrate, bladder, and skin cancer are familiar to the public. Few people realize that there are more than one-hundred types of cancer, let alone what parts of the body are affected by all those cancer types.
No matter which cancer a person has, early detection drastically increases the survival rate. A mole that turns out to be skin cancer, for example, can be removed if found early. In many cases that one mole may be the one and only time a person experiences skin cancer. It is often that situation that leads people to take better care of their skin. Sunscreen, a hat, and decreasing sun exposure becomes a priority instead of just something everyone should consider.
Stages of Cancer
Everyone knows that cancer has stages, with stage 4 cancer being the worst. What people really need to know is that not all cancers are detected in all stages. It is not uncommon for people to first learn they have cancer when it is at stage 4. That classification means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Currently, a cure for any cancer in this stage is non-existent.
Treatments, clinical trials, and experimental methods can prolong life and possibly improve the quality of life but will not cure the cancer. Those who decide to participate in treatment can expect several tests to be completed to help oncologists determine which treatment will most likely be successful in extending life. The first function of tests, which can include scans of the chest, MRI scans of the spine and brain, a bone scan, or a tumor biopsy, is to determine the full extent of where the cancer has spread.
The more people educate themselves about cancers, symptoms, and treatments the importance of early detection and discussing any abnormalities with their doctors will become apparent. There are a multitude of websites that are dedicated to providing information, resources, support, and updates on clinical trials and treatment breakthroughs. A general overview, sort of an Ultimate Guide to different types of cancer, is a great place to start. If anyone in the family has or had cancer, learn about that type first to discover if preliminary testing is available to predict the likelihood of developing that form of cancer.