What Is Cancer
In simple terms, cancer refers to an abnormal growth of cells in the body. This abnormal growth of cells can take place in any part of the body, including, lungs, breasts, kidneys, bladder, colon, skin and prostate. Cancer cells or tumors can either restrict themselves to their place of origin (benign tumor) or travel to other parts of the body (malignant tumor). The signs and symptoms of cancer depends on the type, extent and severity of the condition. This article talks about different aspects associated with the disease cancer, including common types of cancer, the cost of cancer treatment, best cancer hospitals and after effects of cancer treatment.
Signs And Symptoms Of Cancer
Signs of cancer
All cells that undergo unregulated growth to form a mass of cell or lump (tumors) are characterized as cancer when they show the following signs:
- Continuous cell growth without any signalling
- Continuous cell growth even under inhibition signalling
- Limitless cell division
- Programmed cell death evasion
- Blood vessel constriction
- Metastases and invasion of other tissues
There are no visibly identifiable signs and symptoms of cancer when it begins in a specific body part.
Symptoms of cancer
Symptoms of cancer, which depends on the type of cancer, start to appear when the mass of of cells starts to multiply or forms an ulcer. Cancer symptoms can “imitate” the symptoms caused by anther condition that the cancer patient already has. Symptoms of cancer can be divided into the following three categories:
- Systemic symptoms
- These are general set of symptoms that may or may not be related to the spread of cancer. Some of these cancer symptoms include changes in the skin, persistent fever, excessive fatigue and unintentional weight loss.
- Local symptoms
- These cancer symptoms typically appear in and around the region where the cancer begins and typically occurs because of proliferating mass or ulceration. For examples, colon cancer may narrow down or block the bowel, leading to changed bowel habits. Similarly, lung cancer can block the bronchus, leading to pneumonia or persistent cough. Blood may appear in the cough mucous, urine or through rectum in case of ulceration.
- Cancer cells may sometimes spread to other parts of the body, a condition known as metastasis. The symptoms of metastatic cancer may vary and depends on the exact location of the tumor. Some of these symptoms include enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, pain, fracture and enlarged liver.
Types Of Cancer
Cancers can be categorized into different types according to their place of origin in the body or the types of cells that the effect first. According to the type of cells they start in, types of cancer cells can be categorized into the following:
Out of all the types of cancer cells, carcinomas account for more than 80 percent of the total cancer cases reported. There are several common types of cancer, according to where they start in the body.
- These are the type of cancer cells that appear in the skin or the outer lining of the internal organs in the human body. Carcinomas can be again of different types, such as transitional cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.
- Cancers belonging to this category start in the connective and supportive tissues such as bones, cartilage, muscle, blood vessels and fat.
- Commonly referred to as blood cancer, leukemia affects the tissues that form blood cells, such as bone marrow. This leads to the production of abnormal blood cells that are circulated into the body.
- Myeloma and lymphoma
- This category of cancer begins in the cells of the immune system, including the spleen, white blood cells and lymph glands.
- Cancer of the brain and spinal cord
- This type of cancer affects the central nervous system that comprises of the brain and the spinal cord.
The top most commonly diagnosed cancer types include:
There are several common types of cancer, according to where they start in the body:
- Skin cancer
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Blood cancer
- Blood cancer
All Cancer Types:
Rare types of cancer:
There are more than 200 different types of cancer that are diagnosed each year around the world. However, a majority are rare types of cancer that affect only a few people each year.
- Male breast cancer
- Urethral cancer
- Cancer of the fallopian tube
- Penile cancer
- Sertoli cell tumor
- Tonsil cancer
- Tongue cancer
- Heart cancer
Diagnosis Of Cancer
Cancer diagnosis may be conducted as soon as the patient shows specific symptoms or if preventive screening tests for cancer turn out to be positive. The doctor may first ask questions about family and personal history before conducting a physical exam and lab tests (blood, urine, body fluids). Based on the preliminary findings, one or a combination of following imaging tests may be conducted to make a diagnosis of cancer:
After imaging or in parallel, doctors may even decide to conduct a biopsy to make cancer diagnosis. During the procedure, a sample of tissue is taken from the affected site with the help of a needle, an endoscope or through surgery. The removed tissue is observed under a microscope to check for the extent of cancerous growth.
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
- Nuclear Scans
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
Side effects of cancer treatments:
There are a lot of physical and psychological side effects associated with cancer treatment such as radiation, surgery and chemotherapy. For example, surgery can result in pain after treatment that goes over a period of time. While weight loss, nausea, constipation and mood swings are some of the common side effects of cancer treatment, there are several long term side effects associated with radiation and chemotherapy.
Methods to lessen the physical and psychological effects of cancer:
Some of the complications of cancer that patients can experience after treatment include weight loss, nausea, fatigue, difficulty in breathing and constipation. In severe cases, the cancer may reappear in the same or some other part of the body or cause problems related to the nervous system and brain.
- Changing the outlook to focus on things that can be improved on changed, and not on aspects that cannot be modified.
- Talking about feelings and emotions or joining a support group for help.
- Opting for healthier choices in your lifestyle.
- Meeting professional counsellors for personal, group or couple therapy sessions.
- Trying out relaxation techniques such as Yoga, meditation and laughter therapy.
Cost Of Cancer Treatment in India, Malaysia, Thailand & Uae
The cost of cancer treatment in India, Malaysia, UK, US, Thailand and UAE depends on the type of cancer, the complexity involved, duration of stay in hospital, doctor’s fees, the type of hospital and the level of care and services being offered. Typically, cancer patients require a few sittings of radiation therapy or chemotherapy that last over a period of time. While the fundamental treatment method remains the same, the cost of radiation therapy and cost of chemotherapy varies in each country and according to the type of hospital opted for.
Hospital Wise Cost of Cancer Treatment
The cost of cancer treatment may change based on the hospital that is selected. For example, treatment of common types of cancer, such as lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer may cost a little bit more in multi-specialty, private hospitals such as Medanta The Medicity and Fortis Memorial Research Institute. On the other hand, government-funded institutions tend to provide treatment at less costs. However, private healthcare institutions offer specialized and quality medical care with the help of state-of-the-art technologies. Even though they prove to be a bit expensive, the cost of cancer treatment in India is still less as compared to other countries, such as the US and the UK.
Country Wise Cost of Cancer Treatment
The cost of cancer treatment varies greatly from country to country. For example, total mastectomy, that is, complete removal of breast suffering from cancer, may cost around $22000 in the US. On the other hand, the same procedure, performed with the expertise, costs around only $7000 in India. Similarly, removal of a lump from the breast costs around $15000 in the US and only $3000 in India. As fas as chemotherapy for lung cancer treatment is concerned, the procedure cost settles around $21000 in the US and around $3000 in India. Prostate cancer treatment is yet another procedure with the huge difference in costs between the two countries. While radical prostatectomy may cost around $24000 in the US, it costs only $3600 in India. Malaysia, Thailand and the UAE are yet another destination with affordable cost of cancer treatment as compared to developed countries such as the US and the UK. The cost of procedures to treat cancer in these countries is almost the same as what it costs in India.
Treatment-Wise Cost of Cancer
The cost of cancer treatment also depends on the type of treatment that the doctor decides to conduct and for what duration. For example, radiation therapy typically costs less than chemotherapy. While one round of cancer treatment using radiation therapy may cost anywhere between $1700 and $4000, one month’s supply of drugs for chemotherapy may cost anywhere between $4000 and $10000. Moreover, chemotherapy is generally continued for a period of three to six months, and two to three cycles of treatment are conducted each week.
|Average Cancer Treatments Cost In India
||Procedure Cost (USD)
|Bone cancer treatment
|Brain Cancer Surgery- Craniotomy
|Brain Cancer Surgery – Micro Surgery
|Brain Cancer Surgery – Gamma Knife Surgery
|Colon Cancer Treatment – Complete Medical Evaluation
|Colon Cancer Treatment – Cryosurgery
|Colon Cancer Treatment – Polypectomy
|Colon Cancer Treatment – Bowel Diversion Surgery
|Cervical cancer treatment
|Head and neck cancer treatment
|Leukemia cancer Treatment
|Radio Frequency Ablation – Liver Cancer
|Liver cancer treatment
|Lung cancer treatment
|Oral Cancer Treatment
|Whipple Procedure – Pancreatic Cancer
|Total Pancreatectomy – Pancreatic Cancer
|Radical Hysterectomy – Pancreatic Cancer
|Laproscopic Radical Prostatectomy
|Prostate cancer treatment
|Stomach cancer treatment
After Cancer Treatment
After cancer treatment gets over, patients are required to visit the doctor for routine follow-up medical check-ups and cancer care. The follow-up routine checks may involve a few imaging tests, blood test, endoscopy or other lab tests. Patients should inform doctors about any changes, symptoms or side effects that they are experiencing after cancer treatment. It is important to visit oncologist regularly for follow-ups so that recovery of the patient can be assessed and any chances of cancer recurrence after cancer treatment are identified beforehand.