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Department of Cancer Care/Oncology

Know How to Detect Cancer in Early Stages and Save Lives

Posted On: Oct 18, 2022

Cancer treatment in Bangalore

When cells in your body divide at a faster rate than normal, it can lead to a disease called cancer. These abnormal cells can grow into a lump or tumour. If not treated properly and on time, these cells can spread to other parts of the body and can be deadly. Thus, cancer detection at early stages is very important for proper treatment and recovery. If detected in later stages such as stage III and stage IV, it becomes difficult and challenging to recover fully. 

Why Early Detection of Cancer is Important?

Cancer is a deadly disease as it can spread to other organs and disturb their normal functions. The later stage your cancer is in, the deadlier it becomes. To determine the extent and severity of your cancer, the doctor will perform several tests and based on the diagnosis, your stage of cancer will be decided. Some cancers can be found early before they have had a chance to grow and spread. Early cancer detection greatly improves the treatment and incurs less physical, mental and financial suffering as well.

Four Stages of Cancer

The cancer stage is measured by the extent to which cancer cells have spread in the body. Stage I cancer is localised to a small area and stage IV cancer generally spread to other organs or areas of your body. This stage is also referred to as metastatic or advanced cancer. The specific stage of a cancer patient is determined by different factors, including the size and location of the tumour. Cancer can be found in one of these four stages:

  • Stage I

In this stage, cancer is contained to a small area and has not spread to lymph nodes or other tissues. 

  • Stage II

In this stage, cancer has grown but it has not spread to other body parts.

  • Stage III

In stage III cancer, the cancer cells have grown larger and have possibly spread to lymph nodes or other tissues.

  • Stage IV

This is the advanced stage of cancer in which cancer has spread to other organs or body parts. Stage IV cancer is also known as metastatic cancer.

Early Warning Signs of Cancer

Dr. Peush Bajpai - HOD, Department of Medical Oncology at Manipal Hospitals Delhi, explains the immense importance of early screening, and timely treatment of cancer. He says, ”There are certain things that everyone should keep in mind. There are certain warning signs that become visible in a person who has cancer or might get cancer in the near future”. Paying attention to these signs and symptoms is very important to detect cancer at its early stages and getting proper treatment. These signs are:

1. Mouth sores that don’t heal

If there are any sores or ulcers in the mouth which are not healing, especially in tobacco chewers, it should be brought to the notice of a doctor immediately. It could require a biopsy to detect the presence of cancerous cells.

2. Lumps in any part of the body

Any lump in the body whether be it in the breast or elsewhere could be a sign of cancer. These lumps, especially if they have appeared recently need to be diagnosed. 

3. Unexpected bleeding

An unexpected bleed (a bleed from any orifice which is not expected) such as bleeding that is not a part of the regular menstrual cycle in women, might be a warning sign of cancer. Any such bleeding needs to be brought to the notice of a doctor immediately. 

4. Sudden change in bowel habits

If there is any recent change in bowel habits, especially in individuals who are above the age of 50 years, it could be a sign of bowel cancer. Patients should immediately consult their doctor as they might require a colonoscopy. To know more, consult with our cancer care doctor in Bangalore.

5. Repeated heartburn

If there is repeated heartburn, which is not being relieved with regular use of over-the-counter drugs, then it could be suggesting the presence of cancer cells in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Patients should consult their doctor and they might require an upper GI endoscopy.

6. Sudden and unexplained weight loss

If there is a sudden weight loss which is unexplained, meaning the person has not changed his/her dietary pattern, it is important to consult an oncologist. 

7. Change in the size of moles/nevus

If there is a recent change in the size and colour of moles or any of the nevus on the skin, it can be a sign of skin cancer. 

8. Chronic cough

If there is any chronic and consistent cough, it could be tuberculosis, but it can also be an early sign of cancer, especially if the person has been a smoker. 

Watch the video below to know more about the signs and symptoms that might denote the presence of cancer cells.

How to Detect Cancer at Early Stages?

Knowing your risks and keeping an eye out for probable warning signs can improve your chances of surviving if the cancer is found early. 

1. Diagnosis

Pay attention to the early warning signs like changes in skin colour, bowel or bladder changes, sudden weight loss, fatigue, etc. and take prompt action. Although all types of cancer require detection at early stages, early diagnosis of certain cancers such as cervix, breast, mouth, larynx, colon, rectum and skin is particularly important. 

2. Screening

Screening is the term used to describe quick testing to find people who have the disease but have not yet developed symptoms. For instance, mammography is used for breast cancer screening, Pap tests for cervical cancer screening, and CT scans for screening of lung cancer. Book an appointment for the best screening process.

3. Testing for genetic risk

Some types of cancer like breast, bowel, stomach and prostate cancers can be hereditary, meaning if your forefathers had this disease, you are more likely to get it in the future. Ask your family members if they had cancer and then get your screening done.


Here are some frequently asked questions on the importance of early detection of cancer.

Q.1: How to detect cancer at home?

A: Cancer can be diagnosed at home by recognising the early warning signs such as newly formed lumps, sores that won’t heal, constant indigestion and heartburn, unexplained bleeding and chronic hoarseness of voice. Apart from that, there are several screening tests that can help detect cancer at home like a stool DNA test, Guaiac Fecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT) and Fecal Immunohistochemical Test (FIT) for colon cancer. 

Q.2: How to detect cancer early by blood test?

A: With the help of blood tests, certain types of cancer can be detected in their early stages. Blood cancer may be detected using CBC (complete blood count) test. An electrophoresis blood test examines the different proteins in your blood to identify those produced by your body's immune system, which fights infection. This test helps in the diagnosis of multiple myeloma.

Q.3: How to detect breast cancer in its early stages?

A: Breast cancer can be diagnosed in early stages through Breast Self-Examination (BSE). All women should perform a self-breast examination after they had their periods. It takes only a few minutes and can easily be done. In this test, women use their eyes and hands to determine if there are any changes to the look and feel of their breasts.

Q.4: Is cancer curable if detected early?

A: Yes, cancer can be cured completely if detected in its early stages.

Q.5: What are the early warning signs of cancer?

A: Some early signs and symptoms that might denote the presence of cancer cells in the body are unexplained weight loss, unexpected bleeding, fatigue, constant cough, consistent heartburn and indigestion, sores or lumps that won’t heal, etc.

Department of Cancer Care

Manipal Hospitals

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