- Cancer symptoms and signs sometimes manifest during the advanced stages of certain cancers.
- Common symptoms of many forms of cancer include fatigue, weight loss, abnormal bleeding, loss of appetite, and night sweats.
- Cancer symptoms are often ignored because they are similar to symptoms of other common illnesses like colds, flu or an infection.
All types of cancer begin in cells. Leukemia or blood cancer starts from blood cells that build up in the blood and sometimes the bone marrow when the blood-forming tissues do not function properly.
Symptoms are not usually easy to detect and may go undiagnosed for years. There have been reported cases where people undergoing routine checkup and blood tests for other illnesses find themselves diagnosed with a form of cancer. This is because oftentimes, cancer symptoms are easily disregarded because they resemble the symptoms of other common illnesses like colds, flu or an infection.
Fifty-eight-year-old Jeff Tate from Preston was 43 years old when he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia after taking a routine blood test. Tate felt fatigued and weak like he was “running through a treacle” during the time he was preparing to take part in the London Marathon.
“It was really a bolt out of the blue. I’ve had no signs or symptoms, there wasn’t anything,” said Jeff to Express.co.uk.
“This particular type of blood cancer [chronic myeloid leukemia] develops slowly and it is not unusual for it to be diagnosed by a routine blood test or a blood test for something else before any obvious symptoms have developed,” Dr. Alasdair Rankin, Director of Research and Patient Experience at Bloodwise, a blood cancer research charity, said.
Symptoms of blood cancer including extreme tiredness, fever or infection were described as “vague” by Bloodwise because they too are signs of the common cold and flu. Same thing with lumps or tumors, which are not only a manifestation of lymphoma but of other less serious illnesses. More symptoms like easy bruising, bone pain and itchy skin may also be indicative of other illnesses.
To help treat the condition, Gleevac, a drug taken daily was prescribed to Jeff, suffering side effects that include night sweats and problems with short-term memory.
However, results from a new research by the University of Liverpool confirmed that for patients suffering from this type of cancer, it is possible for them to gradually reduce and then completely stop the treatment of Gleevac. The study also reported a significant 72% of people in the trial who had very low or undiagnosed leukemia at the start remained in remission “two years after completely stopping daily treatment.” In effect, if more patients discontinue this treatment, then 23,000 pounds per patient annually could be saved by the National Health Service.