Cancer Diagnosis: What You Need to Know

When diagnosed with cancer, you may find it overwhelming, shocking and life transforming. Whether it’s your diagnosis or a loved one’s, you will be left with questions. Getting answers will help you know where you stand, and how to start working with the doctor from that point on.

Characteristics of a cancer diagnosis

Various types of cancers exist, and they manifest differently in the body and blood. While cancers are similar in many ways, their growth and spread differ. Some cancers grow slowly whereas others grow rather quickly.

Typically, physicians use a staging system to gage how far a cancer has spread. The popularly used TNM system gives the following information:

  • T – Describes the tumor size and shows whether it has spread to the surrounding organs and tissues
  • N- It assesses how far a cancer has moved to the nearby lymph nodes
  • M-It shows whether the cancer has metastasized (spread) to different parts of the body.

Choosing a suitable treatment method

After determining your cancer type and stage, the doctor will work with you to come up with a treatment plan. At this point, you should ask as many questions as you possibly can to ease your mind. Ask the doctor questions such as what is the treatment goal, and find out whether the purpose is to control cancer, cure it, or treat the problems it is causing. This information is critical in decision-making, but you should remember, treatment goals could change with time.

After diagnosis, many people usually feel they need to undergo treatment immediately. However, there’s usually time to weigh your options and make a choice. The type and number of treatment choices depend on:

  • The cancer type diagnosed and its location in the body
  • The cancer’s stage of growth
  • Your age, personal needs, and overall health

Cancers may respond to treatment differently. While surgery may effectively treat some cancers, others respond well to medication, radiation treatment, or therapies. Oncologists may combine treatments to attain the best outcome.

 

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