How Is Cancer Detected?

By: Shrishaila, Diamond

Published On: May 12, 2022

With cancer, it is rather crucial to diagnose the illness in the early stages. In many cases, early cancer detection has helped patients recover and defeat it successfully. Professional opinions also suggest consistent medical checkups and screening can help in the early diagnosis. For instance, if you are from a family with a history of cancer ailments, it is suggested that you undergo regular tests, for instance, annual or bi-annual cancer screening and checkups as you are considered under increased risk. Hereditary situations increase the chances of cancer. Across the globe, the two most common hereditary cancers are breast cancer followed by ovarian cancer also known as the HBOC syndrome and Lynch syndrome. At every stage of detection of cancer, there are various types of approaches to cancer screening. 

How is cancer detected?

The detection of cancer depends on what part of the body cancer grows in. With each type, there are dedicated methods for screening the growing cancerous cells. In medical research methodology, new types of cancer screening are being developed every day. The commonly practised cancer detection methods are mentioned below. 

Cervical cancer detection 

A way of cancer detection for cervical cancer is HPV testing also known as the Human Papillomavirus testing. In this method, cells are retrieved with the scrapping method and sent in for tests. Post which, the cells are thoroughly examined for any strains of HPV. Most commonly, this test is done alone or in conjunction with a Pap smear test. In rare cases, a woman herself can collect samples from the cervix area and get it tested. 

In the Pap test too, the cells from outside the cervix are used to understand if there is any cancerous or precancerous cell. 

Also Read: 3 Ways To Raise Funds For Kids With Cancer

Head, neck cancer detection and diagnosis

In this part of the body, detection of cancer is done with a general health screening exam. The doctor thoroughly checks and feels the nose or the mouth or the throat area for any irregularities or lumps. According to Radiology Info, for head and neck cancer detection and diagnosis, one might have to go through endoscopy, head MRI, CT of the sinuses, head CT, panoramic dental x-ray, dental cone beam CT, PET/CT or chest imaging. 

Skin cancer 

A complete physical examination can help a doctor understand if there are signs of skin cancer. A person can do a self-examination with the help of a mirror and check the scalp and the neck area. If there are any skin lesions, doctors use dermoscopy to understand the size and shape, even the pigmentation of the skin. 

Colorectal cancer

The most commonly used method for cancer detection in the rectal area is Colonoscopy. In this process of detection of cancer, the doctor inserts a light, flexible tube in the renal area. The tube-like camera and the fixated light help the doctor look for any abnormalities like polyps or cancer. 

Another way of cancer detection is through Sigmoidoscopy. In this cancer detection and diagnosis method, only the upper part of the colon can be seen as the Sigmoidoscopy can be inserted with a limit. 

Another non-invasive method is the Fecal Occult Blood Test or the FOBT. In this method, blood in the faeces or stool indicates the presence of polyps or cancer. 

The Double Contrast Barium Enema or the ex-ray of the colon and the rectum area helps identify the outline of the colon and rectum. This is used in cases where colonoscopy is not an option. 

Stool DNA tests help experts look for cancer in a person’s stool. If there is a slight presence or even the absence of polyps or cancerous cells, the doctor takes a call if there is a need for colonoscopy or not. 

Breast Cancer 

One of the most common types of cancer in women is breast cancer. Mammography is the type of x-ray used to view signs of cancer in the breasts. The final images from an x-ray show tumors or any other lump in the breast. This discovery is called mammograms. 

Another way of finding any irregularities in the breast is through clinical examination. The certified examiner will explore the breast area for skin rashes, lumps or any lump around the nipples. Experts also suggest self-examination, in which the woman looks, feels and tries to understand if there are any changes in the area. If there are any changes, she must consult a doctor. 

Doctors also resort to Magnetic Resonance Imaging also known as MRI to understand if a woman has any lump. However, this method is very uncommon. Only women with a larger risk of breast cancer or dense breasts, or those who have already found a lump during an earlier exam can go for an MRI. 

Also Read: Breast Cancer Symptoms That Often Go Unnoticed

Prostate Cancer 

The digital rectal examination or the DRE helps doctors in the early detection of cancer. In the DRE test, a doctor uses a gloved lubricant to feel the surface of a man’s rectum and the areas around. 

Another test that helps in the early detection of cancer is the prostate-specific antigen or the PSA test. In this test, the level of the PSA substance is measured. PSA is generally higher in men who have prostate cancer. However, it is not always that the person might suffer from cancer if the levels are higher, supporting tests would be required. 

Lung cancer 

To know how cancer is detected in the lungs one shall have closely followed the low-dose helical or spiral computed tomography, commonly known as the CT scan. The CT scans help doctors look at the lungs from different angles. The computerised imagery helps in identifying any irregularities or abnormalities. 

No matter how cancer is detected, the medical expenses out of the diagnosis vary from cancer to cancer. Early cancer detection helps in preventing the further spread to other organs. 

Also Read: World Cancer Day 2022: Spotlight On India’s Fight Against Cancer!

Importance of detecting cancer in early stages 

In India, among men, the most common cancer areas or sites were the lung, mouth, oesophagus, and stomach. In women, breast cancer, followed by cervix uteri and ovary cancer were one of the most common kinds. To look at this from a regional perspective,  thyroid cancer was the second most common in areas like Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam. In Manipur as well as Mizoram, lung cancer was seen in the majority of the population suffering from cancer. In the northeast region as a whole stomach and gallbladder were the most common types of cancer. Across the country, major cities like Bangalore, Bhopal, Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai account for the majority of cancer cases.

Even though cancer is detected in large parts of the country, the healthcare facilities and infrastructure for treatment are unevenly distributed. The mortality rate of cancer is also dependent on the early detection of cancer.  

Cancer detection plays a crucial part in increasing the survival rate in India. The early detection of cancer tumors helps doctors’ diagnosis and treatment easy. In stage one of cancer, the tumor is localized in one area, which makes it simple to target and provide treatment. In this stage, the tumor is not further spread into the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. These tumors can be easily removed with the help of a simple surgery. Moreover, the tissues and the cells affected in stage one are lesser as compared to the advanced stages. There is a high likelihood that the tumor can be removed with one surgery, which means further control of the cancerous cells. Thus it is really important to do regular cancer check-ups, especially in the case of family history.

Financing cancer - a step by step process

The annual cost of cancer expenses begins with the first year of diagnosis. In the initial stage - the expenses range between consultation, surgery and medication costs. In the case of benign cancer, it is easier to extract as it is smooth and distinct. In the case of malignant first stage cancer, it would be rather unexpected. Followed by in the case of aggressive cancer, a person would have to go for rounds of radiotherapies and chemotherapies. And in the case of terminal cancer, the medication, surgery and post-op costs can be unmanageable for the person or the next of kin. 

The average cost of cancer care, a combined analysis of all types of cancer.

Stages of medication amount to complete cancer care treatment from diagnosis to recovery. In the beginning, medical services begin with diagnosis and oral prescription drugs. The cost of care fluctuates with respect to the type of cancer. For instance, the annual costs of chronic myeloid leukaemia or CML and myeloma are much higher than the rest of the cancer types. Another factor determining the cost of cancer care is the stage of cancer itself, whether early or late stages. It would be rather unideal and possibly incorrect to say that cancer detection and care in any stage of diagnosis could be affordable for all. Like the unequal infrastructure, there is a large gap between people who suffer from such a critical illness and those who can actually afford complete cancer care. 

Crowdfunding cancer treatments 

Thousands across India, have already crowdfunded their cancer care. With fundraising on crowdfunding platforms like ImpactGuru people have raised medical funds for chemotherapy, radiotherapy, doctor’s consultation, tests, surgery, medication and post-op care. You can start a fundraiser by signing up on the website in minutes. Crowdfunding comes with several benefits, the first and the foremost is that there is no payback involved. Once you start a fundraiser, the amount you raise is a one-time gift from donors who are rooting for you. 

Below are some of the advantages of crowdfunding - 

Read some success stories on cancer crowdfunding - 

Little Varshini Defeats Cancer With The Help Of Crowdfunding.

Krish Has His Donors To Thank For Saving Him From Cancer.

Early Cancer Detection And Donors Help Divyansh Survive Cancer.

With care and timely treatment, most cancer is defeatable. If you are diagnosed with any type of cancer, you can start a fundraiser and raise the amount required to fund your treatment.