25 Jan, 2022
The doctor diagnoses silent cancers, usually in the advanced stages. However, in some cases, the diagnosis of these cancers occurs while diagnosing some other conditions. Therefore, high–risk individuals must regularly screen themselves to determine the presence of these cancers in the early stage.
Silent cancers are cancers that do not have any noticeable early symptoms. Some silent cancers include breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, Pancreatic cancer and lung cancer.
Some of the cancers do not have initial symptoms. It is because most of these cancers affect the internal organs. Therefore, the changes in these organs cannot be noticed from the outside. However, it is not that these cancers do not have warning signs at all. However, the initial symptoms of these cancers are similar to that of other less severe health conditions. It is thus vital to notice the initial symptoms and consult with the doctor.
Several types of cancer do not show symptoms until they progress into advanced stages. Therefore, it is necessary for individuals, especially those with higher risk, to monitor their symptoms. They must consult their doctor if there is any concern about the signs. Some of the cancers that people should keep an eye on are:
Ovarian cancer : It is a type of silent cancer. Its symptoms are not noticed until it progresses to an advanced stage. Usually, the early signs of ovarian cancer are misinterpreted as symptoms of other less severe conditions, such as gastrointestinal problems or health alterations due to ageing. The initial symptoms of ovarian cancer include fatigue, back pain, constipation, stomach upset and loss of appetite. The risk factors for ovarian cancer are obesity, women who never got pregnant, age and hormone replacement therapy.
Colorectal cancer : Similar to the other silent cancers, the symptoms of colorectal cancer do not appear until the disease reaches the advanced stage. Further, there is little knowledge about the symptoms as the gastrointestinal system is not much discussed in society. The initial symptoms of colorectal cancer are rectal bleeding, persistent changes in bowel habits, persistent discomfort in the abdomen and changes in stool consistency. Risk factors for colorectal cancer are inflammatory gastrointestinal conditions, sedentary lifestyle, age, alcohol consumption and smoking, along with underlying medical conditions, such as obesity and diabetes.
Cervical cancer : Cervical cancer is also silent cancer. The symptoms start appearing in advanced stages. Fortunately, it is slow-growing cancer, and the women will have enough time to diagnose and manage the condition in most cases. However, the 5-year survival rate for cervical cancer is 66%. The initial symptoms of cervical cancer include bleeding post intercourse, bleeding between menstrual cycles, fatigue and discomfort in the vagina. The risk factors for cervical cancer are chronic HPV infection, unhealthy diet, smoking, compromised immune system and family history of cervical cancer.
Breast cancer : Breast cancer progresses silently. It largely remains unnoticed and undiagnosed even after the woman consults with the doctor. Inflammatory breast cancer requires special attention. It is fast-growing breast cancer, and unfortunately, there is no lump in the breast in most cases. Therefore, it is essential to identify the symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer early to prevent its advancement. The symptoms include an increase in the size of the breast, swollen lymph nodes under the arm and discharge from the nipple.
Pancreatic cancer : Pancreatic cancer is also silent cancer. The patients should be aware of and keep an eye on the symptoms of pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, there are very few early warning signs associated with pancreatic cancer. The warning signs of pancreatic cancer are jaundice, sudden weight loss, sudden diabetes, abdominal pain, lack of appetite and taste alterations.
Lung cancer : Lung cancer is the sixth silent cancer. The symptoms of this disease do not occur in the early stages. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer stands at 19%. However, if the doctor diagnoses the condition before its progression, the five-year survival rate increases to 56%. Smoking tops the list of causes of lung cancer. The other reasons for this condition include air pollution, asbestos and radon gas exposure and second-hand smoke.
It has been observed that if all the people at risk of developing lung cancer consider screening, several lives can be saved. There are several goals for screening cancer. These include reducing mortality, increasing survival and preventing cancer development in high-risk individuals.
Some of the cancers do not have any screening methods. However, effective screening is available for breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer. The screening methods for breast cancer include mammography, clinical breast examination, breast self-examination and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The doctor uses a Pap test and human papillomavirus test for screening cervical cancer. The doctor screens for colorectal cancer through several methods, namely colonoscopy, faecal occult blood tests, sigmoidoscopy, stool DNA tests and double-contrast barium enema. The doctor implements a CT scan to screen the lung cancer.
Further, it is also essential that people identify their risk factors, which may be specific to particular cancer. If they are at high risk of developing specific cancer, they must frequently undergo screening.
Silent cancers include breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer. Screening is an essential tool for preventing and early diagnosis of such cancers. It helps in reducing the mortality rate and enhancing the survival rate. Patients with a high risk of these cancers must not ignore the warning signs.