Be CAUTIOUS about cancer. What is being CAUTIOUS? It is the quotation placed on every board and unit in oncology centers. Diagnosing cancer involves a few hurdles and confusions, such as:

  • Most patients have no symptoms until the third stage of cancer.
  • Most cases are misdiagnosed as some sort of simple edema, mass or a polyp and a doctor can misread a symptom of cancer.
  • Majority of the cancer diagnoses are unexpected and surprising.
  • Metastasis of cancer cells makes it difficult for doctors to find out exactly which organs are being affected. Often a doctor makes a partial diagnosis because of this phenomenon.
  • Facilities are the major concern in some hospitals as sophisticated oncology laboratories are needed.

CAUTION; the acronym is explained as follows:

  • C stands for change in bowel or bladder patterns and activities,
  • A stands for a sore that does not heal,
  • U stands for unusual bleeding or discharge,
  • T stands for signs of thickening in some part of the body like the breast,
  • I stands for Indigestion,
  • O stands for obvious change in the size, color or shape of a mole or mass,
  • N stands for Nagging cough or hoarseness.

The diagnosis of a cancer could be in fact shocking news to anyone because of the nature of disease, the complex symptoms, virulence of the illness, and a dangerous process called metastasis throughout the body. Yet cancer can be diagnosed successfully through a series of tests and biochemical assays. Some of the common tests and diagnostic criterion are explained below. Broadly speaking, cancer diagnosis can be done under general examination and specific tests for specific tumors.

General Diagnostic Tests for Cancer

Blood Sample Testing

Tumor markers are released in the blood stream, which can be identified through blood tests; blood tests also check for Hemogram through a blood count. The majority of cancer patients exhibit anemia with low RBC and Hemoglobin. Elevated levels of the serum creatinine or blood urea nitrogen (BUN) are detected. Leukemia cases shows poor coagulation or blood clotting.


Endoscopy is a non-surgical procedure where the doctor uses an instrument (a flexible tube with a camera and light attached) to look and examine the interior of the hollow organ or body cavity. Through endoscopy, the doctor or surgeon will be able to observe inside the patient's upper part of the gastrointestinal or digestive tract via images on a color TV monitor.


Colonoscopy is a procedure where the doctor uses an instrument (a flexible tube with a camera and light attached) to look and examine the lining of the large intestine (colon and rectum). Through colonoscopy, your doctor will be able to observe any colon polyps, ulcers, bleeding or inflammatory areas as well as any tumors within the large intestine.


A mammogram is an x-ray image of the breast to discover any lumps or any other signs of breast cancer. Mammograms are important screening tests to detect and treat breast cancer early in order to prevent breast cancer mortalities.

Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing

These tests help detecting abnormal cells within the cervical area and treat those cells early in order to avoid cervical cancer. These tests are usually recommended to begin when women reach the age of 21 and to end at age of 65.


Certain types of cancers, such as prostate, urethral, and renal tumors cause hematuria (blood in the urine). Renal function tests shows deterioration of the function combined with infection of the urinary tract.

Bone Marrow Aspiration

Bone marrow aspiration plays a vital role in discovering proliferating tumor cells in the marrow. Bone marrow is responsible for blood production. If marrow depression or tumor cells in the marrow cells are detected, it is a positive sign of cancer. A section of bone marrow is removed by a marrow aspiration needle on the pelvic bone, which is subjected to laboratory assay for marrow cells or abnormal proliferation of cancer cells in the marrow.


A biopsy is a small sample of a specific (affected) tissue that is scraped by a needle called a biopsy needle. It is used for localized tumors, oral cancer, skin cancer, testicular, or breast cancer, etc. where the pathology shows abnormal enucleated cells which look different from the normal cells. Biopsies can be by Fine needle aspiration biopsy, Core needle biopsy, Vacuum-assisted biopsy, Image-guided biopsy, and surgical biopsy.

Imaging studies

MRI, X-ray, CAT scan, and micro imaging studies reveal in detail about the exact site, growth pattern, and extent of the spread of cancer.