Q: Are there symptoms of cancer?
A: With so many different types of cancer, it's hard to make a list of symptoms. Some cancers have a lot of symptoms, even from early on, while others show no symptoms until they are very advanced cancers.
In general, these are the most common symptoms of cancer people experience:
- A lump on your body, unusual swelling or recent change in a mole/wart
- A persistent sore that won't heal
- Unusual bleeding or a bodily discharge
- Changes in bladder or bowel habits
- Persistent cough or hoarseness
- Trouble swallowing
- Gaining or losing a lot of weight
- Night sweats
Q: Is there a cure for cancer?
A: There is not a single cure for cancer, but there are many effective treatments to get rid of cancer cells and stop them from coming back. Early detection gives you the best treatment options for getting rid of cancer.
Every day, new and promising clinical trials and research studies from around the world give new hope for a cancer cure.
Q: What kind of cancer treatments are available?
A: We treat cancer in different ways depending on the type of cancer, how big it is, where it is and how advanced it is. Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy/drugs are the most common treatments. Your doctor will use tests like images or blood tests to determine what type of treatment might work best for you.
If you are unsure about your treatment, you should always talk to your doctor. You can always get a second opinion to make sure you are making the right decision for your health and lifestyle.
Q: Can cancer be prevented?
A: In most cases, you can't prevent cancer. But you can work to lower your risk of cancer by:
- not smoking or using tobacco
- avoiding excessive alcohol use
- eating a healthy diet
- exercising regularly
- knowing symptoms of cancer/being aware of changes in your body
- getting recommended cancer screenings at the recommended age, especially if cancer runs in your family
- protecting your skin with regular sunscreen use
Q: If I have a cancer diagnosis, what should I do next?
A: A cancer diagnosis can make you feel sad, mad, confused or scared. We recommend bringing someone with you when talking with your doctor so you have help remembering and sorting through information. This is a stressful and emotional time, so having a support person is very important.
Make sure you understand the type of cancer you have, the stage it is (how advanced it is) and where it is in your body.
Also, make sure you ask:
- whether a tumor or mass is considered malignant or benign
- whether it's slow or fast growing
- what your outlook is
- what treatment options are available and what the side effects and success rates are for each treatment option
Never hesitate to call your cancer care team to ask questions, get advice or receive support. At Ellis Medicine, we have a nurse navigator who can support you with any of these questions. We also have experienced cancer experts and caregivers who are available to guide and support you.
If you are not sure what treatment option is right for you, please consider getting a second opinion. Your treatment is your decision, so you deserve to be as informed as possible.
Q: When should I see an oncologist or other cancer specialist?
A: When you have cancer, you should always see a medical oncologist (a doctor who specializes in caring for cancer). Depending on your specific cancer, you might also see a radiation oncologist (a doctor who specializes in using radiation to kill cancer cells), a surgical oncologist (a doctor who specializes in removing cancer), and a doctor who specializes in caring for the area where your cancer is located (such as a dermatologist for skin cancer or urologist for bladder cancer).
For more information about cancer care at Ellis Medicine, please call 518.243.4762.