Importance of Early Detection of Cancer

Early detection is exactly as it sounds. It involves the prompt discovery of a disease before it progresses any further. When it comes to cancer, early detection is particularly important. Cancer has four stages. The 1st stage is the earliest and usually involves small tumors that have not embedded themselves in your body's tissues. This is the best stage for cancer to be discovered as it has the highest chance of survival. The next best stage for cancer symptoms to be detected in the 2nd stage. At this stage, the tumors are bigger and have embedded themselves into the surrounding tissue. Nonetheless, these stages are not as dangerous as stages 3 and 4. In these latter stages, chances of survival are low and chances are higher that a patient will succumb to their cancer. The first and second stages of cancer are the best time for early detection. Thus in these stages, cancer can be diagnosed and treated early. This way doctors can ensure cancer does not spread any further, helping the patient incur less physical, emotional, mental, and financial turmoil. In this article, we take a look at how early detection of cancer can help improve a cancer patient’s survival rate by looking at some of the world’s most common cancer.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the second most prevalent cancer diagnosed in women each year. It involves the out-of-control growth of cells in the breast. Though it is more common in women, some men do suffer from breast cancer.

Early detection of breast cancer is of extreme importance for the survival of the cancer patient. While the idea of being diagnosed with breast cancer may seem scary, it is a perfectly curable disease particularly if it is diagnosed early. Just about every woman diagnosed with breast cancer survive usually has a five-year survival rate.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world and involves the abnormal growth of skin cells. Skin cancers are in most cases categorized into either melanomas or non-melanoma skin cancers. Melanomas are usually less common than non-melanoma, but melanomas are usually more deadly than non-melanomas.

Nonetheless, both these skin cancers are curable when detected early. Melanomas particularly have a 99% survival rate for 5 years if detected in stage 1. This survival rate drops to 80% if the melanoma is detected at stage 2, 66% if detected in stage 3, and 27% when detected at stage 4.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is one of the deadliest cancers out the. Currently, it is one of the top cancer killers in the UK. But the best part about this cancer is that it is highly preventable. Though family history can increase your chances of getting lung cancer. The most common cause of lung cancer is smoking.

Nevertheless, if you happen to have lung cancer, having an early diagnosis is your best chance of survival. Though lung cancer may be preventable, it is highly terminal. When you are diagnosed will have a huge impact on your chances of beating lung cancer. A person diagnosed with cancer in their first stage has a 57% chance of surviving for the next five years compared to the 3% chance of surviving the same timeline if the cancer is diagnosed in the fourth stage.

Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer refers to any cancer that starts from the large bowel. Depending on where it starts bowel cancer can be referred to as colon or rectal cancer. Bowel cancer is currently the fourth most common cancer and the second largest cancer killer in the UK.

Surviving bowel cancer is highly dependent on when this type of cancer is diagnosed. Though bowel cancer is treatable, the sooner it is diagnosed the higher the chances of treating this cancer. In fact, cancer patients diagnosed with bowel cancer in the first stage have a 90% survival rate. This number drops to 14% if the cancer is diagnosed in the fourth stage.

The above cancers show how important early detection of cancer is to the survival rates of cancer patients. Just comparing the survival rates of when patients were diagnosed in the first stage and when they were diagnosed in the fourth stage is enough to prove how important early detection is. So what are the two elements to ensure the early detection of cancer:

Cancer education and awareness

Cancer education and awareness help with early diagnosis. By being more aware of the common cancer sign and symptoms, individuals can better recognize the earlier warning signs of cancer and get to their doctor fast enough to get an early diagnosis. Furthermore, cancer education and awareness are not only useful for patients but physicians and nurses as well. With this information, they will be able to make more educated early diagnoses of cancer signs and symptoms.

Screening tests

Screening tests have gained a reputation as the ultimate early detection tool. Unlike early diagnosis, which relies on signs and symptoms, screening involves doing tests on healthy people to figure out if they have cancer or not. These tests are supposed to be non-invasive and are supposed to give a definitive answer to a person’s condition. Here are a couple of famous screening tests that can be used for the early detection of various cancers.

Clinical physical examination – This screening test is carried out by a certified physician who inspects a patient’s body looking for any changes such as a new mole or lump that may be indicative of cancer.

Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy – these two diagnostic screening tests and are used to look through an individual’s bowels to figure out if they have tumors there or not.

Mammogram – This is the screening test that is used to provide breast imaging and figure out if there is a cancerous growth in the breasts or not.

Low-dose helical CT scan – This scan is used for screening cancerous growth in the lungs. It takes several pictures of the lungs and pieces them together to create a detailed image that will assist in figuring out if one has lung cancer or not.

Nevertheless, we need to remember that screening does not need to be done every time or by everyone. Some individuals are more at risk of getting certain types of cancers, like smokers who are more at risk of getting lung cancer. These individuals should be the priority when it comes to screening.

In conclusion, early detection is vital to ensuring cancer patients get the best treatment to ensure their survival.