The The Approach to Care of Cancer

The The Approach to Care of Cancer.

The Approach to Care of Cancer

Cancer is associated with many deaths around the word. Statistics indicate that in total, more than 10 million people die of cancer every year for the past decade. About 8 million people lost their lives to cancer in 2012 alone (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). It is also the most common causes of death in the United States, coming second after heart-related complications and diseases. Cancer accounts for nearly 1 in every 4 deaths. In estimation, more than 1 million new cancer cases are diagnosed in the US every year, while the financial cost of cancer in terms of medical costs and loss of productivity is estimated to amount to $263.8 billion per year (American Cancer Society, 2016). Scientists suggest that there are over 100 different types of cancer and each type is normally classified by the type of cells that it affects. Research shows that in the next two decades, there will be a 70% rise in the total number of new cancer cases diagnosed.

Due to these worrying facts on cancer, a lot needs to be done in the fight to reduce and control the rates by which people are acquiring cancer. Firstly, there needs to be established ways through which cancer awareness is created. People need to be educated on the major causes of cancer and the methods and ways through which different cancers can be prevented or controlled.  Secondly, both governmental and non-governmental agencies should join hands in fighting this scourge. Funds should be raised aimed at facilitating scientific research in a bid to get a cure for a majority of the types of cancer.  In addition, individuals too have a role to play. By living a healthy life that is, eating the right kind of foods, exercising regularly, avoiding the use of alcohol and other hard drugs and getting checked regularly for early diagnosis, they too can help to reduce the rising rates of cancer.  Care for cancer is a multi-faceted concept that requires commitment and dedication from all and sundry.

 

 

Just like most diseases, cancer has stages too. It is usually imperative for physicians to determine the stage of each cancer case that they diagnose so as to determine the right mode of treatment. Stages refer to the extent in which a particular type of cancer has spread in the body and how much of the cells it has eaten up or affected. Once physicians determine the stage of cancer, they are put in a better position to plan and recommend the best treatment for it. They may also be able to point out other treatment options such as clinical trials and in addition, they are able to understand the seriousness of that particular cancer and can determine if there are chances of survival. Through laboratory tests, x-rays and other procedures, physicians are able to tell the different stages of different types of cancers once they diagnose them.

One of the ways through which cancer is staged is through the use of a system known as the TNM system. It is widely used across the world in hospitals and other health care facilities. In this system, T determines the size of the tumor which spreads the cancerous cells. N refers to the number of nodes that may be infected by the cancer cells, while M determines whether cancer has multiplied, from the initial tumor to other body organs. This system has been mentioned as one of the most effective methods of determining the different stages of cancer (National Cancer Institute, 2016). Additionally, it has been used in a majority of cancer cases and has been successful. Because the TNM system is quite complex and some patients may not fully comprehend it, physicians have come up with a less detailed method of staging cancer which normally involves 5 stages 0-IV. At the first stage, the cancer abnormal cells are usually present in the body though at very minimal levels. While at the fifth stage, if not treated, the cells usually multiply and infect other body parts. This is normally the most deadly stage of cancer and chances of survivor are normally very minimal. Cancer registries have also come up with a system of staging cancer. Though doctors use this method too, it is commonly used by cancer registries to collect data and determine the pace in which different types of cancer develop as well as how fast they do. The five stages are; In situ, localized, regional, distant and unknown all of which are used to describe the different stages of cancer one at a time.

Laboratory tests, imaging procedures, and biopsy are the most common ways through which physicians diagnose cancer (National Cancer Institute, 2016). Laboratory tests are commonly used to measure body fluids such as urine and blood. However, physicians cannot solely rely on such tests to diagnose cancer. They need to be supplemented and backed with more accurate and advanced procedures such as the imaging procedures and biopsy.  Imaging procedures include X-rays, CT scan, nuclear scan, PET scan and Ultrasound all of which by creating a picture inside the body help physicians to determine the presence and location of a tumor. Biopsy, on the other hand, is a procedure through which a doctor removes a tissue sample and places it under a microscope to determine whether it is cancer. The three methods are the most commonly used methods of diagnosing cancer across the globe.

There are several cancer-related complications which can be classified as physiological or psychological in nature. The most common type of cancer complication is a pain.  It can result from cancer itself of from the process of treatment. Pain can either be acute (one that is very severe and only lasts for a shorter duration) or persistence/chronic pain (one that takes a longer time to go away) which can either be mild or severe (American Cancer Society, 2016). In most cases, pain is normally caused by cancer itself rather than the treatment process. The level of pain is normally determined by the extent to which cancer has spread. The more advanced the stage, the worse the pain. Different types of cancer cause different amounts of pain but generally, patients with more advanced cancers especially those that are at the final stages normally suffer more pain. Pain is both physical and psychological as a person going through pain is not only physically impaired but mentally impaired too and when the pain gets so severe, a person suffers mental damage to an extent that his reasoning becomes impaired too.

The other complication that is closely connected to cancer is anemia. This is a condition that results from a deficiency of red blood cells. When the level of red blood cells is lower, the body is deprived of adequate oxygen. When one suffers from this condition, the heart is forced to pump blood harder in order to supply enough oxygen to different parts of the body as required. At times the heart can get exhausted and unable to pump the required blood and this often results to pallor or weariness. Fatigue is the other common complication resulting from cancer. In cancer patients, fatigue is normally more intense. Cancer treatment kills cancer cells as well as normal cells. This leads to a buildup of a waste of cells. In turn, the body requires some extra energy to clean up this waste and to repair damaged and injured tissues and as a result, cancer patients experience fatigue.

Treating cancer requires a very long and intense process. As a result, a number of side effects arise that can be closely related to this intense process. For instance, for patients who undergo surgeries, they are usually more likely to experience bleeding, blood clots, pain, damaged tissues and drug reactions (American Cancer Society, 2016). Their wounds could also catch infections making their conditions worse.  Radiotherapy as the other mode of treatment often results in fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.  Chemotherapy has its own shortcomings too. In addition to causing pains such as headaches, stomach pains, and muscle pain, it also occasionally leads to fatigue and in some cases, its side effects could include vomiting and fever and loss of hair (National Cancer Institute, 2016).

 

 

There are a number of ways which cancer patients can use to manage or lessen the side effects associated with cancer treatment. Different side effects can however, be managed differently.  Pain, for instance, can be reduced by use of pain relievers.  For the patients who experience loss of appetite, eating a balanced diet can help the body with the nutrients it needs to heal the injured and damaged tissues. Sleep disturbance is another common physical side effect of cancer treatment. To manage this condition, one would be required to exercise regularly, avoid drinks that contain caffeine and sleep in a comfortable bed in a room that is cool and quite. There are emotional side effects too that needs to be managed.  Cancer patients often experience psychological distress, stigma, shock, depression, anxiety, feeling isolated and vulnerable. These feelings can be managed professionally for instance by seeking help from therapists and counselors and through support from family and other support groups. Cancer patients are usually encouraged to speak out as this helps to reduce the effect of that which they carry inside.

However, there is much that is yet to be done in addressing the physiological and psychological side effects of care. Everyone has a role to play in making this world a better place for cancer patients. Stigmatizing cancer patients should be made a thing of the past. Cancer patients should be loved and cared for by not only their relatives and family but also by the community as a whole. Scientists should also come up with better and more advanced modes of treatment aimed at reducing the side effects that follow treatment.  The government should also play a role in this. For example, it can set aside days on which cancer patients are to be recognized and celebrated. This would greatly help them psychologically making them feel and know that they have a place in the society too.

 

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP). (2016). Global Cancer Statistics. Retrieved on 21 October 2016 from http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/international/statistics.htm

National Cancer Institute. (2016). Diagnosis. Retrieved on 21 October 2016 from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/diagnosis-staging/diagnosis

American Cancer Society. (2016). Facts About Cancer Pain. Retrieved on 21 October 2016 from http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/pain/facts-about-cancer-pain

 

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The The Approach to Care of Cancer

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