Medical News Summary: Increasing awareness of cancer symptoms by doctors and patients may improve diagnosis


About: Increasing awareness of cancer symptoms by doctors and patients may improve diagnosis
Date: 24 November 2004
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Medical News Summary (summary of medical news story as reported by The Wall Street Journal): Cancer symptoms often mimic that of other conditions which are generally not serious. Valuable time is often wasted looking for a cause when an early diagnosis often makes a vast difference to survival. Some symptoms of cancer may include back pain, constipation, fatigue or a hoarse voice. Existing cancer screenings often miss tumours or arenít capable of detecting certain cancers. Cancer experts want to educate doctors and patients to be more aware of cancer symptoms and to know when to seek help. The risk of course is that people may seek treatment for every little ailment. For example, colon cancer can cause cramping and fatigue; lung cancer can cause coughing and chest pain; and pancreatic cancer can cause abdomen or back pain. All of these symptoms are also common to other benign conditions. The key is to look at the total symptoms, their severity and the onset. For example, vaginal bleeding in a patient over 50 could be as a result of cervical or endometrial cancer; and intestinal problems in a diabetic diagnosed in the last two years could be pancreatic cancer. A series of misdiagnoses in a 43 year old woman over two years may have seriously impacted on her prognosis and certainly required more aggressive treatment. She initially complained of mild chest pains when breathing but an x-ray showed no problems. Episodes of sharp pain were treated with Advil. Fatigue, bloating and eventually severe abdominal pain led her to seek emergency treatment where she was misdiagnosed with inflammation of the digestive tract. Her husband insisted on a CT scan which finally indicated advance ovarian cancer. She later realized that other symptoms she had experienced (spotting between periods, longer periods, frequent urination and lower back pain) but not mentioned were also related. To emphasise this point, the National Cancer Institute pointed out that in1995-2000 only 8% of pancreatic cancer patients were diagnosed in early stages, 39% of colorectal cancer patients, 19% of ovarian cancer patients, 34% of oral cancer patients and 16% of lung cancer patients. Dentists are also harmonizing with the Oral Cancer Foundation to become more aware of cancer symptoms such as lesions they may observe during oral treatment.
Related Disease Topics: Cancer, Tumor, Colon cancer, Lung cancer, Pancreatic cancer, Cervical cancer, Endometrial cancer, Diabetes, Pancreatic cancer, Inflammation of digestive tract (see Digestive symptoms), Ovarian cancer, Colorectal cancer, Lung cancer, Oral cancer
Related Symptom Topics: Back pain, constipation, fatigue, hoarse voice, cramping, fatigue, coughing, chest pain, abdomen pain, back pain, vaginal bleeding, intestinal problems, sharp pain, bloating, severe abdominal pain, spotting between periods, longer periods, frequent urination, lower back pain, lesions

Related Medical News Channels: This medical news summary article refers to the following medical channel categories:
  • Diagnosis
  • Diagnosis of cancer
  • Diagnosis of tumor
  • Diagnosis of colon cancer
  • Diagnosis of lung cancer
  • Diagnosis of pancreatic cancer
  • Diagnosis of cervical cancer
  • Diagnosis of endometrial cancer
  • Diagnosis of diabetes
  • Diagnosis of pancreatic cancer
  • Diagnosis of inflammation of digestive tract
  • Diagnosis of ovarian cancer
  • Diagnosis of colorectal cancer
  • Diagnosis of lung cancer
  • Diagnosis of oral cancer
  • Diagnosis of back pain
  • Diagnosis of constipation
  • Diagnosis of fatigue
  • Diagnosis of hoarse voice
  • Diagnosis of cramping
  • Diagnosis of fatigue
  • Diagnosis of coughing
  • Diagnosis of chest pain
  • Diagnosis of abdomen pain
  • Diagnosis of back pain
  • Diagnosis of vaginal bleeding
  • Diagnosis of intestinal problems
  • Diagnosis of sharp pain
  • Diagnosis of bloating
  • Diagnosis of severe abdominal pain
  • Diagnosis of spotting between periods
  • Diagnosis of longer periods
  • Diagnosis of frequent urination
  • Diagnosis of lower back pain
  • Diagnosis of lesions

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