To avoid misdiagnosis in detecting cancer symptoms, it is very important to have a battery of tests.
Unexplained weight loss, recurrent fevers and night sweats are common symptoms for infections and tuberculosis but if they have not been confirmed, it requires further testing and diagnosis for cancers. While recurrent fevers may subside with self-medication or by consulting different doctors, in the long run, it only allows time for the cancer to spread, explains medical oncologist Dr Sudha Sinha of the American Oncology Institute.
While the symptoms are not the same for all, these are some of the most common ones and most easily skipped, especially as the same symptoms can be present in the case of severe infectious diseases and tuberculosis. To avoid misdiagnosis therefore, it becomes very important to have a battery of tests although some people do not have the patience for a detailed testing which can also be expensive.
Dr Sudha Sinha explains, “At the clinical level, we find that most of these patients come at stage 2 or stage 3 as these symptoms are not known to them. Often the medical fraternity on the periphery and even in the cities is found to skip tests and that leads to a cycle of neglect whereby the cancers spread. However, these are symptoms that can be easily picked up and treated. Unexplained weight loss, for instance, is often related to throat, intestine or stomach cancers.”
Meanwhile, iron deficiency and anemia are believed to be some of the reasons for intestinal cancers in post-menopausal women, who must opt for a detailed evaluation after their menopause is complete.
Tips to remember:
Thankfully, with treatment patterns changing due to the advent of new drugs, the quality of life of patients after treatment is being given more importance, with immunotherapy, precision medicine and other targeted therapies being the most sought after.
Treatment changes which help people cope better with the disease are:
All these advances make cancer treatment safe and manageable, with most patients reporting a good quality of life while on treatment. Many of them even go to work in between their treatment cycles. Patients are encouraged to lead an active lifestyle and try and stick to their normal routine while on treatment to help them cope better with the side effects. A proper diet regime is also required along with the treatment and often, small but frequent meals are recommended. A high protein diet to improve healing is beneficial while fatty foods, spicy foods, outside food and non-filtered water should be avoided at all costs.