Cancer is always named for the place where it starts. While lung cancer may spread to the brain, it is still called lung cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Cancer
Sometimes cancer will reveal itself in signs and symptoms. A sign is something that can be seen by another person. For example a person may develop a chronic cough, or be suddenly unable to speak or mix up words more frequently than an occasional slip of the tongue. These are signs that something isn’t right. While they may not be cancer, they may be cause for concern and a doctor should be notified.
A symptom, on the other hand, is a signal that is either felt or otherwise noticed by the person themselves. Symptoms can be extreme tiredness, feeling short of breath or overall body aches. Sometimes people ignore symptoms or dismiss them as unimportant especially if there is a reason for the symptoms or they are short lived. But, symptoms should not be overlooked when they get worse or last for a prolonged period of time.
While signs and symptoms can point to potential issues, for most types of cancer, a cancer diagnosis cannot be made until a biopsy is done. During a biopsy, the doctor will remove a small amount of tissue to examine under a microscope. While other tests may suggest cancer is present, a biopsy can only confirm the diagnosis.
Grades and Stages of Cancer
After diagnosing patients with cancer, doctors will use the stage of cancer to describe the size of a tumor and how far it has spread from where it first originated. The grade is associated with the appearance of the cancer cells.
An Overview of Cancer Grades
Tumors that are considered low-grade have a slower growth rate and rarely spread into nearby tissue. Cancerous tumors of this type are called Grade I. A high-grade, fast growing and spreading tumor would be a Grade IV. Here are more complete definitions of each grade:
- Grade I — The tumor cells look very much like normal cells under a microscope. They grow and spread more slowly than higher graded tumor cells. These tumors rarely spread into nearby tissues. Grade I brain tumors may be able to be cured if they are completely removed by surgery.
- Grade II — Spreading more slowly than grade III and IV tumor cells, Grade II cancer cells may spread into nearby tissue and may come back even after surgery. Sometimes a Grade II tumor may become a higher-grade tumor.
- Grade III — Under a microscope, the tumor cells look very different from normal cells and grow more quickly than grade I and II tumor cells. They are likely to spread into nearby tissue.
- Grade IV — Grade IV tumors usually cannot be cured. They do not look like normal cells under a microscope and grow and spread very quickly. There may be areas of dead cells in the tumor.
An Overview of Cancer Stages
While there are different types of staging systems, which are used for different types of cancer, below is an example of one common method of staging:
- Stage 0 – the cancer is where it started and has not spread. Prognosis for Stage 0 cancer is very high.
- Stage I – the cancer is small and has not spread anywhere else. Doctors may refer to this as early stage cancer.
- Stage II – the cancer has grown, but has not spread.
- Stage III – the cancer is larger and may have spread to the surrounding tissues and/or the lymph nodes.
- Stage IV – the cancer has spread from where it started to at least one other organ of the body. At this stage the cancer is also known as secondary or metastatic cancer. This type of cancer is more difficult to treat, but not impossible.
Beyond Grades and Stages
Upon learning of a cancer diagnosis, and hearing the grade and stage of the cancer, many patients report feeling frightened and shocked. They can experience a full range of emotions. Once past the initial emotional turmoil, patients and doctors work to develop a plan to not only fight the cancer, but to also live with what is happening.
Taking control of the cancer diagnosis, patients are recommended to:
- Identify a Partner – Often a spouse, family member or close friend can be a wonderful outlet to talk openly with and provide support through treatment.
- Get organized – During cancer treatment, there will be a multitude of doctor’s appointments, medical records, tests and treatments of which to keep track. Having a notebook or other system to keep all this information in one place can relieve some stress by helping the patient and their partner feel in control by simply being organized.
- Get informed – While its recommended that patients learn more about their diagnosis, this should be done through trustworthy sources, such as the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute and of course, the doctors involved in cancer treatment. The amount of information being put before them overwhelms some patients. To prevent this from happening, research should be done and information by presented at a pace that’s comfortable to the patient.
- Second Opinions – Cancer treatments can vary greatly between diagnoses. Different doctors may have different approaches. A second opinion may help patients feel more comfortable to determine what they want their treatment plan to be.
Cancer Treatment Options
As noted, cancer treatments vary greatly. The Cancer treatment plan that is best for the patient will depend on the exact type of cancer, the stage and grade of the cancer, it’s location and stage of development, the overall health of the patient, and the patients feelings about the treatment and side effects along with the goals for treatment and quality of life. Some patients value quality of life over longevity, while others seeking a cure regardless of the discomfort of treatment. Neither of these are unreasonable treatment goals. Cancer treatment is a very personal decision.
Cancer treatment options may include any, all or a combination of the following:
- Surgery – a major or minor operation to remove the cancer.
- Chemotherapy (Chemo) – uses anticancer medication that acts throughout the body.
- Radiation Therapy – cancer cells are killed using high-energy beams or implants.
- Targeted Drugs – affect mainly cancer cells and not normal cells in the body.
- Immunotherapy – using elements of the immune system as medicine against the cancer.
- Clinical Trials – these research studies test new drugs or other treatments in people. The compare standard treatments with others that may be better.
More on Cancer Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are one way to get access to the newest cancer treatment. They are one of the best ways for doctors to find new and improved ways to treat cancer. While many doctors may recommend a clinical trial to a cancer patient, it is up to the patient whether to take part in any cancer clinical trial. If the patient does sign up for a clinical trial, they can always stop at any time.
ClinicalTrials.gov is an online resource providing patients, their family members, health care professionals, researchers, and the public with easy access to information on publicly and privately supported clinical studies on a wide range of diseases and conditions.
ClinicalTrials.gov contains information about medical studies in human volunteers. Most of the records on ClinicalTrials.gov describe clinical trials, sometimes referred to as a research study or interventional studies in which human volunteers are assigned to interventions based on a protocol (or plan) and are then evaluated for effects on biomedical or health outcomes. Studies listed in the database are conducted in all 50 States and in 204 countries. Visit https://clinicaltrials.gov for more information.
About Leaf Vertical, Inc.
Leaf Vertical Inc. is an innovative, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical research company, committed to discovering and developing novel therapeutics from its proprietary cannabinoid product platform.
For more information on Leaf Vertical or its Cannabinoid (CBD) clinical trials, use in the treatment of specific types of malignancies related to glioblastoma, myeloma, gastrointestinal, and breast cancer, when administered in conjunction with Standard of Care, please contact Leaf Vertical by phone at 407-776-9217 or visit the company’s headquarters at 805 S. Kirkman Rd, Suite 202, Orlando, Florida 32811.