The Capstone Clinic
oncology


Oncology at The Capstone Clinic

What is Oncology?

Oncology is the study of cancer and its treatment. Cancer cells are cells that are abnormal and grow uncontrollably forming a mass called a tumour. Cancer has the ability to spread to various organs in the body. Where the tumour first occurs is called the primary site of the cancer and the spread of the cancer to different organ systems leads to the secondary manifestations of the disease.

Normal cells divide and grow to make up the body system. However, any trigger or genetic predisposition can cause these cells to modify their growth into cancer cells. A tumour can be either benign or malignant. Malignant tumours can grow and spread to other parts of the body. Cancer may also spread to different parts of the body like the bones, liver, lungs or brain through the bloodstream. Some types of cancer do not form a tumour, such as leukaemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of cancer include:

  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Night Sweats
  • Fatigue
  • A lump
  • Yellowing, darkening, or redness of the skin
  • Sores that don’t heal
  • Moles, freckles, or warts that change in colour, shape, or size
  • Pain in the affected area
  • Bowel or bladder function changes
  • Cough or hoarseness
  • Indigestion
  • Bleeding
  • Changes in your mouth
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Being out of breath
Diagnosis

Our doctors may use one or more approaches to diagnose cancer, such as:

Physical exam

The doctor may feel areas of your body for lumps that may indicate a tumour. During a physical exam, he or she may look for abnormalities, such as changes in skin colour or enlargement of an organ, which may indicate the presence of cancer.

Laboratory tests

Tests like urine and blood tests may help your doctor identify anomalies that can occur as a result of cancer. For instance, in people with leukaemia, a common blood test called complete blood count may reveal an unusual number or type of white blood cells.

Imaging tests

Imaging tests allow the doctor to examine your bones and internal organs in a non-invasive way. To diagnose cancer, imaging tests such as bone scan, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan, Computerized Tomography (CT) scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), ultrasound and X-ray, etc., may be done.

Biopsy

During a biopsy, the doctor collects a sample of cells for testing in the laboratory. There are several ways of collecting a sample. The right biopsy procedure for each patient depends on their type of cancer and its location. Biopsies are the most effective way to diagnose cancer.

The difference between normal cells and cancer cells is that, while normal cells look uniform and orderly, cancer cells have a more chaotic order and are of varying sizes and shapes.

Prevention

A very effective way to ensure a cancer-free future is to prevent it. A cancer smart lifestyle could prevent at least one in three cancer cases and reduce the overall number of cases as well.

Smoking, sun exposure, poor diet, alcohol, inadequate exercise or being overweight are risk factors that cause more than 13000 cancer deaths each year.

Fortunately, there are a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce the risk of cancer such as:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Wearing sunscreen
  • Getting regular check-ups and being alert to any changes in your body