Discussion: Describing the Approach to Cancer Care Essay
Discussion: Describing the Approach to Cancer Care Essay
Cancer indiscriminately affects people of different color, religion, race, demographic, and age. It has had disastrous outcomes in individuals, families, communities, and the world. Today, many people fear a cancer diagnosis. Cancer can develop from any part in the body. It is characterized by the growth of deadly and toxic cells, which takes place at an alarming rate, eventually crowding the normal cells. This results in the body working abnormally owing to corrupted cells. From 1991 to 2015, the mortality rate linked to cancer went down significantly in the U.S, which reflects advances in cancer screening, prevention, survivorship, and treatment care (American Cancer Society, 2018). Nevertheless, the U.S. cancer outcomes vary significantly between populations categorized by geographical area of residence, ethnicity or race, health insurance coverage, and socioeconomic status. Today, many potentially preventable deaths occur due to cancer in people who do not get efficacious cancer screening, prevention, survivorship, or treatment care. Similarly, the spending on cancer care is enormous and increasing, which strains family budgets and the state and national health insurance programs. Among the most critical issues in the U.S. is ensuring that all communities and populations benefit from the already-completed cancer research projects. This necessitates addressing these issues from the position of health care delivery, which can help reduce cancer mortality rates. This essay discusses and reviews the staging and diagnosis of cancer and explores the cancer complications, treatment, side effects, and the different ways that can reduce the psychological and physical effects. It concludes that the most efficacious approach to cancer care necessitates patient coping mechanisms made possible by dietary improvement, education, physical activity, and support.
Diagnosis and Staging
It is can be somewhat difficult to understand, diagnose, and treat cancer. Cancer occurs in many types depending on where it originates before spreading to other parts. Nevertheless, all cancers share the same characteristics in how they develop, but they differ in the way they grow and spread. It is imperative to carry out diagnosis to identify the cancer type, as well as determine how staging and treatment will be eventually be done (Hinck & Näthke, 2014). Primary prevention of cancer aims to avert the possibility of cancer ever occurring if the diagnosis is negative. It includes environmental controls and health counseling. Secondary prevention aims to discover and control cancerous cells through screening and efficacious treatment. Tertiary prevention aims to reduce the impact of negative symptoms of cancer such as pain and fatigue (Corrie, Hategan, Fife & Parkinson, 2014). These strategies are discussed in more detail in this paper.
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Staging of Cancer
The ability to stage cancer in the right way is extremely important. Staging lays the ground that determines the choice of
treatment for the cancer. Cancer staging denotes the procedure by which the extent of the disease, as well as the aggressiveness of spreading, is diagnosed. Most often, cancer is assigned a number from I to IV depending on the severity or the extent to which it has spread. Stage I implies isolated cancer while Stage IV refers to cancer that has spread. It is not possible to stage all cancers (National Cancer Institute, 2019). For instance, blood cancer, which is also referred to as leukemia, mostly spreads to other body parts. A majority of leukemia types cannot be staged like other cancers that present themselves in form of tumors.
Cancer staging can be done in several ways, but the TNM (Tumor, nodes, metastasis) approach is the most commonly utilized method of staging in most cancer types. The T category comprises of information regarding traits from the primary or original tumor. This includes information relating to the tumor size, the extent to which it has established itself into the organ in which it originated, as well as whether it has spread further to other tissues. The N category provides information on whether the cancer has spread into the lymph glands (Galli et al., 2017). The M category shows whether the cancerous cells have metastasized to other body parts.
Complications of Cancer
People with cancer may present varying complications. The three commonest complications of cancer are rare immune system bodily reactions to cancer, weight loss, and pain (Lodi, Iannitti & Palmieri, 2011). There can be many complications, but these three require utmost attention because if not well managed, they can be life threatening to the patient.
Many cancer patients experience pain associated with the treatment procedures. Not every cancer is painful, but when the patient experiences pain, he or she goes through stress that may not be bearable. Most of the time, the cancer itself can cause pain. The level of pain experienced is contingent on a number of factors, some of which are the stage and type of cancer, existing health problems, and the patient’s tolerance to pain or pain threshold. Individuals with advanced cancer will most likely experience pain. Cancer treatments, tests, or surgery can also result in pain. Patients may also experience pain that is not related in any way to the cancer or the treatment process. As in many other people, cancer patients may experience muscle strains, headaches, as well as other pains or aches. The management of pain management is critical, and the majority of patients are prescribed enough pain management drugs or alternatives that can treat pain associated with cancer.
Both the cancer treatment and the cancer itself can result in weight loss. Cancer eats up food from healthy cells and removes essential nutrients from them (Coa et al., 2015). In general, this complication does not result from the type of food consumed or the calories taken in, and this implies difficulty in treatment. In many cases, the physician may end up opting for artificial nutrition using a gastrostomy tube. In other cases where the patient does not tolerate anything in the stomach, nutrition may be introduced through the vein.
The cancer itself and its treatment procedures might weaken the body’s immunity. This is especially the case when cancer spreads into the bone marrow, which is responsible for making blood cells that combat infection. This often occurs in cases of lymphoma or leukemia, but it may present in other cancers as well. The cancer may prevent the marrow from producing as many blood cells as needed. Particular cancer treatments might weaken the immune system for some time. This is mainly due to reduced number leucocytes produced in the marrow. Some of the treatment methods that result in a weakened immune system include targeted cancer drugs, chemotherapy, high dose of steroids, and radiotherapy. At times, the immune system can react due to the mere presence of cancer. In this case, the cancer causes an attack to the healthier cells. Paraneoplastic syndrome is the medical term that denotes this type of attack. The attack is extremely rare and may sometimes result in many symptoms and signs that can in the end affect the patient’s neurological status, such as seizures or walking problems.
Side Effects of Treatment
Cancer patients may benefit from many different available treatments. The treatment options are contingent on various qualifying factors like the stage and type of cancer, the general health of the patient, as well as his or her preferred treatment option. The oncologist and patient decide the best treatment based on the risks and benefits of each. Chemotherapy may have an inauspicious effect on all cells including the healthy ones. If treatment harms the normal cells, the patient experiences multiple side effects (American Cancer Society, 2019). Some drugs used in the treatment can affect cells of vital body organs like the nervous system, kidney, heart, lungs, and bladder. Some inauspicious effects, especially those that result in lowered immunity, may lead to infections that can be fatal.
Methods to Lessen Physical and Psychological Effects
The majority of cancer patients experience psychological and physical distress. Psychological distress comes from the inability to cope with the cancer diagnosis, as well as the challenges associated with the treatment. It is imperative to learn with these difficulties as this enhances the patient’s well-being.
Lessening the Physical Effects of Cancer
Cancer and its mode of treatment produce a number of physical effects, the first of which is too much fatigue. Fatigue resulting from cancer treatment is much worse than fatigue experienced because of normal tiredness. Cancer patients can experience fatigue suddenly. This fatigue is not contributed by ordinary activities or exercise. It may not improve through taking a rest, and research has shown that being active helps combat this fatigue. Thus, an exercise program can be helpful.
Some cancer patients might experience vomiting and nausea while on treatment. These problems can be reduced through physician-prescribed medications. Cancer patients should not wait for the symptoms to worsen. Vomiting and nausea can be controlled easily through early prescription of medications (Cancer.net, 2019). Pain is another physical outcome of cancer, as well as its treatment. The patient needs to keep a diary of symptoms and pain levels and let the physician know about them. A scale of 1-10 should be used to describe the least to the most pain experienced. The patient should also take pain control drugs as directed by the physician. Pain may also be managed using physical therapies like massage or ice packs, hot water bottles, or others recommended by the specialist nurse or physician. Hair loss may occur in the course of cancer treatment. While this effect may be temporary, the cancer patient may need counselling services to overcome the discomfort and shock associated with it.
Lessening the Psychological Effects
Cancer has significant psychological impact on patients. The management of psychological effects might be a lifelong process. Some strategies to help overcome the psychological effects are a change in outlook on life, which necessitates focusing on the positive rather than negative aspects. Sharing the experience with cancer with friends and family is an efficacious way to ease the tension or stress associated with it. According to Liu, Wei, Chen, Zhou, and Hu (2016), spiritual intervention and professional counseling such as couple, individual, group, or family therapy may help in ensuring better mental health.
It can be difficult to treat cancer, particularly when it is not diagnosed and staged early enough. Nevertheless, it is possible to take care of cancer patients through a variety of methods. Healthcare providers should endeavor to make cancer bearable for all patients regardless of the extent to which it has spread. Different patients have different coping mechanisms, and it is imperative to capitalize on these strengths. It is essential to manage physical and psychological issues that develop as an outcome of cancer or its mode of treatment. Cancer care necessitates addressing the needs of the patient and supporting his or her family. While cancer is a scary condition that has claimed many lives, care necessitates giving patients hope and improving quality of their lives.