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What Are Cancer Tests and How Can They Help You?
Cancer cells are nothing more than healthy cells that went through abnormal mutations. Cells in the human body go through a constant state of transformation. When some of these transformations go wrong, cancer cells can develop. This leads to cancerous tissues, tumors, and cancer diagnosis.
Obviously, everyone wants to avoid that and this is where cancer tests come into the picture. Cells that undergo abnormal mutations give signs. Certain substances in the body act as biomarkers, or tools that let doctors know cancer might be on his way.
That's why you should do a cancer blood test once in a while. Keep reading to learn more about these tests and how can they help you preserve your health in the future.
What Are the Substances Checked by Cancer Tests?
As mentioned earlier, a cancer test looks at certain hormones or proteins in your body that signal massive inflammation. Some of the most common tests for men are PSA tests.
PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen. It's a substance produced by prostate tissue. If the PSA is too high, it can lead to inflammation, benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), prostate enlargement, and more. In extreme cases, a high PSA level can lead to cancer.
That's why there are several tests that check your PSA level. One of them looks at your general PSA levels. These should be under 4 mg/dL. Anything higher can lead to prostate inflammation and other complications. If your PSA levels are low, you have nothing to worry about.
If the PSA levels are above 4 mg/dL, there is another test that gives more accurate results. The test measures the total PSA levels as well as free PSA that circulates freely in the bloodstream.
Lactate Dehydrogenase (LD) Tests
Lactate dehydrogenase (LD) is a substance released by body cells when they are damaged or destroyed. As a comparison, if you see torn metallic pieces on a road as well as shards of glass and broken tires, chances are that an automobile accident just happened. LD acts the same way, letting doctors know that there is inflammation or cell damage in the body.
The first LD test looks for damage across the whole body. LD is present in almost all tissues in your system, so it's easy to see if the LD levels are elevated. However, this test is not very specific. If you have high levels of LD, you might need to check the LD isoenzymes too.
The LD isoenzymes is a more comprehensive panel. There are 5 LD isoenzymes and each of them is present in a specific tissue or organ group. For example, LD 1 is associated with the heart and kidneys. LD 3 is associated with the lungs. LD 5 is present in the liver and skeletal muscle, etc.
If the LD isoenzymes are higher than normal, this suggests an inflammation in that particular part of the body. This helps doctors determine if the inflammation is located in your heart, liver, or kidney and come up with appropriate treatment methods.
Total hCG Test
hCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin. It's a substance produced by the body in certain circumstances such as when a person is pregnant or has a specific type of cancer. Checking the hCG levels is also necessary as part of your cancer testing process.
Measuring the hCG levels is also important for those who are going through hCG therapy. This type of therapy might be required to increase fertility. It has to be done under a doctor's supervision and the blood work of the patient must be checked regularly. At the same time, hCG levels also provide clues about different types of cancer, that's why it's included in this category.
What Are the Symptoms of Cancer?
This type of life-threatening disease shows a plethora of warning signs and this can help people react quickly and do something about it. There are multiple types of cancer symptoms, depending on where it's located and its severity. Here are just a few of them:
- Excessive fatigue - having low energy levels can signify a problem with your thyroid gland or liver. It's possible that your thyroid gland is not working properly or your liver is damaged and can't eliminate all the toxins in your body.
- Severe weight loss or gain - most people that develop cancers lose weight. Their bodies don't have the ability to maintain muscle and fat tissue and they might lose a considerable amount of weight in just a few months or weeks.
- Difficulty swallowing and breathing - these symptoms might be related to lung or throat cancer. These areas of the body get inflamed and severely damaged. The condition can be life-threatening.
- Skin changes and other problems - yellowing of the skin might indicate jaundice, a severe liver problem. Cuts that don't heal could also indicate various types of cancers as well as excessive bleeding or bruising.
- Discomfort after eating - feeling discomfort after eating certain foods might be normal, but not after most meals, even healthy ones. This is a surefire sign that there is a problem with the stomach, digestive system, or small intestines.
- Lumps under the skin - these are commonly associated with breast or testicular cancers. Lumps under the skin might signify accumulation of damaged tissue and should prompt an immediate test and doctor visit.
- Changes in bowel movements - excessive constipation or diarrhea are also associated with different types of cancers. These usually happen without making significant changes in diet and fluid intake.
Pick Your Cancer Test Today!
There is a special type of urgency that must be taken when it comes to cancer tests. This disease can be terminal, but luckily, many cancers can be prevented or treated. You just have to know if you're predisposed to different cancers or not.
That's why taking a cancer test is strongly recommended, even if you don't have the symptoms mentioned above. Pick your test from the ones mentioned below and get to know your body better.