Cancers With No Warning Signs
While many cancers have symptoms, some forms are more discreet.
Pancreatic cancer may not lead to any signs or symptoms until its progressed to an advanced stage. A family history, as well as frequent pancreatic swelling, may increase your risk. If this is the case, your doctor may recommend regular cancer screenings.
Some cases of lung cancer may only result in subtle signs and symptoms outside of the well-known cough. Certain types may cause increased blood calcium levels, a symptom which may not be detected without lab work.
Kidney cancer, especially in its earlier stages, is another type that may not cause notable symptoms. Larger or more advanced kidney cancer may lead to symptoms such as pain on one side, blood in the urine, or fatigue. However, these symptoms are often the result of other benign causes.
How Do People Find Bcc On Their Skin
Many people find it when they notice a spot, lump, or scaly patch on their skin that is growing or feels different from the rest of their skin. If you notice any spot on your skin that is growing, bleeding, or changing in any way, see a board-certified dermatologist. These doctors have the most training and experience in diagnosing skin cancer.
To find skin cancer early, dermatologists recommend that everyone check their own skin with a skin self-exam. This is especially important for people who have a higher risk of developing BCC. Youll find out what can increase your risk of getting this skin cancer at, Basal cell carcinoma: Who gets and causes.
Images used with permission of:
The American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
J Am Acad Dermatol. 2019;80:303-17.
If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Chest
Radiation treatment to the chest may cause side effects such as:
- Sore throat
Radiation can also cause other problems in the heart or lungs.
Getting radiation to the middle portion of the chest can raise your risk of heart disease. This risk increases with higher radiation doses and larger treatment areas in this part of your body. Radiation can also cause hardening of the arteries , heart valve damage, or irregular heartbeats.
Radiation pneumonitis is inflammation of the lungs that can be caused by radiation treatment to the chest . It may occur about 3 to 6 months after getting radiation therapy. Its more likely if you have other lung diseases, like emphysema . Common symptoms of radiation pneumonitis include:
- Shortness of breath that usually gets worse with exercise
- Chest pain, which is often worse when taking in a deep breath
Sometimes there are no symptoms, and radiation pneumonitis is found on a chest x-ray.
Symptoms often go away on their own, but if treatment is needed, it is based on trying to decrease the inflammation. Steroids, like prednisone, are usually used. With treatment, most people recover without any lasting effects. But if it persists, it can lead to pulmonary fibrosis . When this happens, the lungs can no longer fully inflate and take in air.
Be sure you understand what to look for, and tell your cancer care team if you notice any of these side effects.
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How Long Do Side Effects Last
Remember that the type of radiation side effects you might have depends;on the prescribed dose and schedule. Most side effects go away within a few months of ending treatment. Some side effects may continue after treatment ends because it takes time for the healthy cells to recover from radiation.
Side effects might limit your ability to do some things. What you can do will depend on how you feel. Some patients are able to go to work or enjoy leisure activities while they get radiation therapy. Others find they need more rest than usual and cant do as much. If you have side effects that are bothersome and affecting your daily activities or health, the doctor may stop your treatments for a while, change the schedule, or change the type of treatment youre getting. Tell your cancer care team about any side affects you notice so they can help you with them.
A Physical Exam And Health History Will Be Taken To Look For Causes Of Fatigue That Can Be Treated
A physical exam will be done. This is an exam of the body to check general signs of health or anything that seems unusual. The doctor will check for problems such as trouble breathing or loss of muscle strength. Your walking, posture, and joint movements will be checked.
- Complete blood count with differential: A procedure in which a sample of blood is taken and checked for the following:
- The number of red blood cells and platelets.
- The number and type of white blood cells.
- The amount of hemoglobin in the red blood cells.
- The portion of the blood sample made up of red blood cells.
The healthcare team will take a health history by asking about the status of your cancer and cancer treatments. It is important that you and your family tell the healthcare team if fatigue is a problem. You will be asked to describe the fatigue.
Other questions that you will be asked about include:
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Radioprotective Drugs For Reducing Side Effects
One way to reduce side effects is by using radioprotective drugs, but these are only used for certain types of radiation given to certain parts of the body. These drugs are given before radiation treatment to protect certain normal tissues in the treatment area. The one most commonly used today is amifostine. This drug may be used in people with head and neck cancer to reduce the mouth problems caused by radiation therapy.
Not all doctors agree on how these drugs should be used in radiation therapy. These drugs have their own side effects, too, so be sure you understand what to look for.
Questions To Ask The Doctor
- Do you know the stage of the cancer?
- If not, how and when will you find out the stage of the cancer?
- Would you explain to me what the stage means in my case?
- What will happen next?
There are many ways to treat skin cancer. The main types of treatment are:
Most basal cell and squamous cell cancers can be cured with surgery or other types of treatments that affect only the spot on the skin.
The treatment plan thats best for you will depend on:
- The stage and grade of the cancer
- The chance that a type of treatment will cure the cancer or help in some way
- Your age and overall health
- Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it
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Fatigue In People With Cancer May Have More Than One Cause
Fatigue in people with cancer may be caused by the following:
- Cancer treatment.
- Anemia .
- Hormone levels that are too low or too high.
- Trouble breathing or getting enough oxygen.
- Problems getting enough sleep.
- Loss of appetite or not getting enough calories and nutrients.
- Dehydration .
- Changes in how well the body uses food for energy.
- Loss of weight, muscle, and/or strength.
- Medicines that cause drowsiness.
- Tumors in certain parts of the body.
- Other medical conditions.
- Having fatigue before cancer treatment begins.
Fatigue is common in people with advanced cancer who are not receiving cancer treatment.
Nutrition Needs Change And Cause Or Increase Fatigue
For many patients, the effects of cancer and cancer treatments make it hard to eat well. The body’s energy comes from food. Fatigue may occur if the body does not take in enough food to give the body the energy it needs. In people with cancer, three major factors may affect nutrition:
- A change in the way the body uses food. A patient may eat the same amount as before having cancer, but the body may not be able to absorb and use all the nutrients from the food. This is caused by the cancer or its treatment.
- An increase in the amount of energy needed by the body because of a growing tumor, infection, fever, or shortness of breath.
- A decrease in the amount of food eaten because of low appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or a blocked bowel.
Early And Late Effects Of Radiation Therapy
- Early side effects happen during or shortly after treatment. These side effects tend to be short-term, mild, and treatable. Theyre usually gone within a few weeks after treatment ends. The most common early side effects are fatigue and skin changes. Other early side effects usually are related to the area being treated, such as hair loss and mouth problems when radiation treatment is given to this area.
- Late side effects can take months or even years to develop. They can occur in any normal tissue in the body that has received radiation. The risk of late side effects depends on the area treated as well as the radiation dose that was used. Careful treatment planning can help avoid serious long-term side effects. Its always best to talk to your radiation oncologist about the risk of long-term side effects.
Stiff Joints And Muscles
Radiotherapy can sometimes make your joints and muscles in the area being treated feel stiff, swollen and uncomfortable.
Exercising and stretching;regularly can help to prevent stiffness.
Tell your care team if joint or muscle stiffness a problem. They may refer you to a physiotherapist, who;can recommend exercises for you to try.
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Electron Beam Radiation Therapy
Doctors use electron beam therapy to treat skin cancer in people who cannot undergo surgery. It is also used to destroy any remaining cancer cells after surgery. During this treatment, doctors deliver beams of tiny particles called electrons that do not penetrate below the skin where it could damage healthy tissue and organs.
How Can I Tell If I Have Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is actually one of the easiest cancers to find. Thats because skin cancer usually begins where you can see it.
You can get skin cancer anywhere on your skin from your scalp to the bottoms of your feet. Even if the area gets little sun, its possible for skin cancer to develop there.
You can also get skin cancer in places that may surprise you. Skin cancer can begin under a toenail or fingernail, on your genitals, inside your mouth, or on a lip.
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Start By Taking A Walk
The first thing that I advise people that are dealing with this, is to take a nice walk outside in the morning. Waking up with some fresh air and exercise will drive up the energy levels in the body. People will feel better throughout the day. It also contributes to how well the biorhythm is working.
When the sun is out, it will also give them a nice boost of vitamin D which we need to feel healthy. Of course, I urge them to wear a hat and apply sunscreen before going out.
Dr. Haley advises this because the UV exposure from the sun is the most common cause of skin cancer. So this tip does not only apply to people that are being treated for skin cancer, but also for people that are healthy. Make sure to be aware of the risks of the sun so you can enjoy it, without taking a risk.
If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Breast
If you have radiation to the breast, it can affect your heart or lungs as well causing other side effects.
Short-term side effects
Radiation to the breast can cause:
- Skin irritation, dryness, and color changes
- Breast soreness
- Breast swelling from fluid build-up
To avoid irritating the skin around the breast, women should try to go without wearing a bra whenever they can. If this isnt possible, wear a soft cotton bra without underwires.
If your shoulders feel stiff, ask your cancer care team about exercises to keep your shoulder moving freely.
Breast soreness, color changes, and fluid build-up will most likely go away a month or 2 after you finish radiation therapy. If fluid build-up continues to be a problem, ask your cancer care team what steps you can take. See Lymphedema;for more information.
Long-term changes to the breast
Radiation therapy may cause long-term changes in the breast. Your skin may be slightly darker, and pores may be larger and more noticeable. The skin may be more or less sensitive and feel thicker and firmer than it was before treatment. Sometimes the size of your breast changes it may become larger because of fluid build-up or smaller because of scar tissue. These side effects may last long after treatment.
After about a year, you shouldnt have any new changes. If you do see changes in breast size, shape, appearance, or texture after this time, tell your cancer care team about them right away.
Less common side effects in nearby areas
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Persistent Hoarseness Or Coughing
Plenty of common, noncancerous ailments can cause a cough or hoarseness, from allergies to respiratory infections.;
But if you lose your voice for longer than three or four weeks, that may be an early symptom of throat cancer, according to Cancer Research UK. Other signs to watch out for include shortness of breath and difficulty swallowing.;
Skin Cancer Diagnoses Vary Widely Know Your Options
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, affecting about 3.5 million Americans each year. Non-melanoma skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are not likely to spread and may require little more than minor surgery or topical treatment. Melanoma, which accounts for about 1 percent of all skin cancers but is responsible for most skin cancer deaths, may spread through the lymphatic system or bloodstream to other organs. Because occurrence of this disease varies so widely, turning to a team of experts may be essential to understanding your disease and the options available to treat it. The pathologists and oncologists at our cancer hospitals are experts in treating skin cancer.
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® , our doctors;treat cancer every day, giving them the knowledge and experience to help you make informed decisions about your care. Your oncologist may recommend surgery, immunotherapy or targeted therapy, and plastic surgery;to restore your function and appearance, if necessary. Your care plan may also include evidence-informed supportive care therapies;to help you address skin cancer-related side effects, such as sun sensitivity, skin dryness, itchiness and redness, fatigue, swelling or nausea.
Concerned about your skin cancer risk? Take our;five-minute risk assessment, and get an action plan based on your answers.
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Changes In Your Blood
Some treatments can reduce the number of normal blood cells produced by your bone marrow . This includes some types of radioisotope therapy. Sometimes, it can also happen with external beam radiotherapy, especially if you have chemotherapy at the same time.
Your blood cell levels are unlikely to cause problems and they will improve after your treatment finishes. Some people need treatment if the level of certain types of blood cells is too low.
Your team will arrange any blood tests you need during and after your treatment. Always tell your team if you have any bruising or bleeding that you cannot explain. This includes:
How Does Nutrition Impact Energy Level
Cancer-related fatigue is often made worse if you are not eating enough or if you are not eating the right foods. Maintaining good nutrition can help you feel better and have more energy. The following are strategies to help improve nutritional intake:
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