What is asymptomatic cancer?

Cancer is a word that brings fear to many people, and you’ll often hear of people being diagnosed asymptomatic. This means that the cancer has developed in a part of the body which has no symptoms, or symptoms are not felt at the time.

Someone with cancer doesn’t have to have symptoms. If you have asymptomatic cancer, you might only find out when an X-ray or other diagnostic test reveals the problem. Some symptoms of cancer can be vague and can be easily mistaken for other health conditions. Also, you might only notice symptoms at the later stage of development when the cancer starts to affect other parts of the body.

Because of cancer’s ability to “hide in plain sight”, it’s important to keep up with recommended cancer screening tests, which can detect cancers at a very early stage, even before they’ve caused any obvious symptoms.

What are the signs and symptoms of cancer?

Which cancers are hardest to detect?

There are many types of cancer that can grow in the body without causing noticeable symptoms. These are sometimes called silent cancers. The cancers that can be the most difficult to detect at an early stage are:

Lung cancer

While some people with lung cancer do experience symptoms, these can be nonspecific and could be dismissed as other conditions such as asthma or bronchitis. As a result, lung cancers are often diagnosed at an advanced stage when they have already spread beyond the lungs.

Brain cancer

Brain cancer can be difficult to detect because it can take various forms. Symptoms are often vague and nonspecific.

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is often asymptomatic until it reaches Stage 2 or 3, which can make early detection difficult.

Pancreatic cancer

Early-stage pancreatic cancer is unlikely to cause any signs or symptoms, which is why it is often only diagnosed after it has reached an advanced state.

Ovarian cancer

Sometimes called the silent killer, ovarian cancer symptoms can be very non-specific and like other common conditions.

Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancers cause symptoms such as a lump or pain in the throat / neck area, however many are asymptomatic.

How long can you have cancer without knowing it?

While some cancers grow very quickly, other cancers are very slow growing and can even go undetected for ten years or more. One example is certain types of thyroid cancer, which are very slow growing and may never spread beyond the thyroid gland.

If you receive a cancer diagnosis, we are here to help. Contact our medical concierge team at +65 6255 0528 or email concierge@icon.team who will help to assist you with your queries.

View all