When to consult a Surgeon?
There are two main types of abnormal swellings or lumps that can occur in our body. First type is a harmless variety. In medical terms, these are known as Benign swellings. Some examples of such benign swellings are Papilloma (Warts), Lipoma (Abnormal proliferation of Fat cells),Sebaceous cyst (Arising from a sebum secreting skin gland ), Neurofibroma (Arising from Nerve Sheath)etc. These swellings are usually painless and can occur anywhere in the body.
Apart from disfigurement, these benign swellings very rarely cause a life threatening complication. Hence if your Surgeon is making such a diagnosis you can relax! There is enough time to wait!
But there are some painless and dangerous swelling that can occur in our body. In a female a lump in the breast or in the front of neck ( Thyroid )can be harmful or cancerous! Each female should have the feel of her normal breast at least from the age of 20 years(That is what Medical books say!) Any abnormal feel or lump in the breast should be shown to your doctor. Remember all the lumps in the breast and thyroid are not cancers!
Doctors confirm the benign nature of a swelling by doing a simple test known as FNAC(Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology. It is taking a few cells from the swelling using a fine needle and examining under the microscope by a pathologist. The pricking pain is not more than that of an Injection you had earlier! Remember if you bear this pain what you can achieve is the detection of a possible harmful condition that can even endanger your life!
Your doctor may also ask for some additional tests like a Mammogram (Low voltage X Rays) or an Ultra sound scan in doubtful cases. Do not forget that cancer breast or thyroid is curable if detected sufficiently early!
Another common cancer is cancer of the oral cavity. A non healing ulcer or a swelling inside the mouth or tongue should be shown to your doctor. Betel nut chewing is an important risk factor for oral cancers. Pain, increased salivation and halitosis (bad mouth odour) are the other symptoms.
Next silent killer is a cancer of rectum-the lower most part of large intestine. The commonest presentation is bleeding at the time of passing stools/faeces. One common mistake the patients usually commit is that they think that the cause of bleeding is due to Piles! Even Piles can present in a similar manner. Never ignore such symptoms. A Surgeon can help you to differentiate between these two conditions by a digital examination of the anus or with the help of a Colonoscope- an instrument to visualize the lumen of the large intestine.
One should be also aware of the cancer of the Testis. It can present as a painless swelling of the Scrotum. Unlike other sites FNAC is not done for testicular cancers. The confirmation is by physical examination of the person and by ultra sound scan of the scrotum.
A common manifestation of cancers in general is its tendency to spread to Lymph nodes. Hence any unexplained enlargement of lymph nodes which are common in the neck, axilla or groin should also be evaluated with the help of your doctor.
Other features of cancers are unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite. As some benign conditions can also produce such symptoms, a detailed evaluation under the guidance of a good Doctor is essential.
Another condition which demands the help of a Surgeon is sudden onset of abdominal pain. There are situations which can be cured with some simple medications; but certain other types of abdominal pain may need emergency surgery like Appendicitis. Hence severe or unresolved abdominal pain especially if associated with fever or vomiting should be shown to a Surgeon. A plain X ray, Ultra Sound scan, Blood and Urine tests may be required to find out the cause of pain.
In female patients of reproductive age group developing abdominal pain and syncope( loss of consciousness) should be rushed to a Surgeon to rule out a life threatening condition called Ruptured Ectopic Pregnancy.
When to consult a Surgeon?