There are over 200 different types of cancer, each with its own methods of diagnosis and treatment. There is a much greater chance of successfully treating cancer if it is detected early. However, accurately diagnosing cancer can take time. Many cancers grow slowly, and it can be years before they are discovered or cause symptoms that lead to investigating.
In many cases, cancer is treated using chemotherapy (powerful cancer-killing medication) and radiotherapy (the controlled use of high energy X-rays). Surgery may also be recommended to remove cancerous tissue.
Unfortunately people who have had one cancer are more likely to get a second cancer, which may be the same or different to their first cancer. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy further increase this risk, but it will have been considered carefully when your initial treatment is planned.
Some cancers raise certain proteins or other substances in your blood, called tumour markers. However, The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia recommends that you ask your doctor or specialist about the benefits and downsides of testing for tumour markers and whether it is relevant to your situation. For further information, visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.
You can implement preventative measures to avoid getting a second cancer by adopting a healthy lifestyle such as not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight with a balanced diet and participating in regular exercise.
Cancer Council Australia provides more information about cancer through their website www.cancer.org.au, or by calling their helpline on 13 11 20.
Last reviewed: January 2018