Cancer diagnosis and staging Advertorial

2016-10-04 06:00

FOLLOWING on from my previous article on cancer, I come now to STAGING.
I treat about 900 new cancer patients a year, and see another 1500+ for their follow-ups (for two years depending on the cancer). Staging is far more important than treatment. Staging answers four important questions:

•What cancer are we treating (usually a biopsy diagnosis)

•Whether the local lymph nodes are involved (palpation, sometimes biopsy)

•Has the disease spread (metastasised) to another organ (X-rays, ultrasounds etc. may be required)

•Are there any concurrent illnesses which may affect the decision to treat, the treatment objectives (cure vs control vs euthanasia) and if any treatments cannot be given due to drug-drug or drug-disease interactions. An example here is that a dog with bone cancer and arthritis in other limbs cannot undergo amputation. Another is that a patient with poor kidney function may not receive certain drugs.

The staging process results in the specialist being able to choose an appropriate set of options for a patient and owner. Without this, you’re just guessing and that is a negligent way to practice medicine. Staging for one patient with lymphoma may be more or less extensive than for another patient. In my next article I will discuss some of the general treatment options.

- Dr A Zambelli

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