Approach to Care

Cancer is the growth of abnormal cells referred to as malignant cells. The cells divide and multiply forming tumors, which then spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream. Cancer occurs in any part of the body such as skin, breastbones, or nerve tissue. It is difficult to determine the specific causes of cancer because of its varied nature. Some of the risks of contracting cancer include radiation, environmental pollutants, tobacco, excessive intake of alcohol, and lack of physical exercise. Almost ten percent of cancers are hereditary. For men, the most common cancer types today include colon cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer, while for women the most common are breast cancer and cervical cancer. There are other types of cancer that affect children and these include leukemia, brain tumor, and lymphomas. Global cancer rates are increasing because of the lifestyle changes and the aging population.

This paper describes the diagnosis and staging of cancer, complications of cancer, and its physiological and psychological treatment.          

Cancer is recognized either through the appearance of some signs and symptoms or through screening. With technology, there is a rise of diagnostic tools that help to detect cancer. In many cases, cancer is diagnosed by biopsy. This is where a sample of a tissue is taken from a patient with a fine needle or by surgical excision. The tissue is then examined under the   microscope to determine whether there is a presence of cancer cells.  Chabner & Longo (2010) assert that biopsy can be a simple procedure or a complex one depending on where the tumor is located. After a patient is diagnosed with cancer, a pathologist uses a CT scan to check the exact size and location of the tumor.

Staging of cancer is a process used to find out how much the cancer has spread in a person’s body and where it is located. This information is required by the doctor to help him plan the treatment. Staging checks the size of the tumor and the extent to which it has spread throughout the organs. It is significant to note that the staging of cancer is divided into the pathological stage and clinical stage. The clinical stage is used based on the available information, which is obtained before the removal of the tumor through surgery, the information obtained by radiologic examination, endoscopy, and physical examination. However, pathologic staging is the most reliable because there is a direct examination of the location of the tumor and to what measure it has spread.  When treating cancer correct staging is required to prevent improper treatment. In most cases, the staging process for most common cancers such as breast cancer and prostate cancer is well defined, as the pathologist can determine when the cancer is early and that the risks are low. System staging is specific for each type of cancer and some cancers do not have a system staging. 

There are different types of staging system but the most common used around the world is the TNM system.  This is a system where each cancer is given a letter to describe the tumor, metastases and node.  However, letters do not mean the same for each cancer as every cancer has its own classification system. There are factors, which affect a stage, and this includes the cell type, tumor location, the grade, and the tumor marker levels. A change in staging system or advancing of technology used for detection of a tumor’s spreading can lead to stage migration, which is the change in stage distribution in a cancer population.

According to Ko, Dollinger, & Rosenbaum (2008), cancer complications occur depending on patient’s health and the tumor’s stage, and these complications can be life changing and even fatal. This requires numerous therapies and a focus on reducing the physical and emotional stress they cause. Most of the common cancer complications are pain, metastasis, and mood disorder.  Pain is a physical complication of cancer. When a tumor grows, it spreads to the surrounding tissue and puts pressure on a nerve making a patient have pain. This pain is categorized into three types that is visceral pain, caused by a damaged organ tissue, neuropathic pain that is caused by the injury of the central nervous system, and lastly somatic pain, which affects some areas of the bone, skin, and muscle. A doctor needs to check the kind of pain that is present before he/she treats it. A doctor recommends a course of treatment to help reduce the pain that includes medication related to opioids, such as morphine and codeine, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Metastasis is also another complication, which affects cancer patients.  Pories, Moses, & Lotz (2009) confirm that this is the spread of cancer cells through the blood system from one part of the body to the other. Metastasis causes most of cancer-related deaths due to vital organs such as liver, brain, and bones being affected. Some cancers spread to other parts of the body more often. Breast cancer spreads to liver, lungs, and brain, while prostate cancer spreads to the pelvic bone. These tumors can be removed through surgery to prevent their spreading to other parts of the body. Mood disorder is another complication, which is commonly seen as a mental and emotional disorder. Mood disorder includes depression and anxiety. Most patients experience sadness and grief when undergoing cancer treatment. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), most cancer patients are at risk of committing suicide and this fact calls for professional treatment. Support group therapy and psychotherapy helps cancer patients with depression and anxiety to control their moods and live a normal life. Patients are advised to seek medical attention from a doctor in order to get the required treatment.

Chabner & Longo (2010) opine that palliative care is recommended in the address of physiological and psychological treatment. This is care given to cancer patients to improve their quality of life. Palliative care is given to treat the side effects of cancer, which are psychologically related. Palliative care is also called supportive care. This should be given during diagnosis, treatment period and during follow-ups. A specialist is recommended to give palliative care because he is professionally trained to treat the symptoms, emotional problems, and side effects. There are number of interventions that help patients adopt excellent behavior that helps them improve their overall health. This includes services such as financial support to access medication and transportation to the clinics. Taking good care of oneself is another way of preventing psychological effects by a patient. This involves healthy eating habits, proper exercise, and relaxed sleep.

Relaxation is a technique recommended to reduce anxiety, tension and, depression. This technique is applied on a daily basis and is used even before the treatment of cancer. This helps prevent the patient’s anxiety and it helps him to be restful.  Pories, Moses, & Lotz (2009) reiterate that muscular relaxation is recommended as it helps ease physiological side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Relaxation also helps patients to feel they are in control of their own treatment. Therapy is also a method of dealing with physiological effects. This strategy helps to reduce stress, adhere to cancer treatment and care, and help the patient to have a good mood. Through therapy, a patient improves on his/her diet, gets social support, and reduces smoking.

In conclusion, cancer is becoming widespread because of the change of living, aging and changes in diet. It is not easily cured but with early detection of a tumor, it can be removed to avoid its spreading to other parts of the body. Most countries have put in place cancer centers to help patients with cancer.  Through these developments, cancer patients are able to access the required medication, and support from the caregivers. Information is also given to people about the different causes of cancer and the ways to avoid or reduce the chances of getting cancer. Cancer care is given to patients in order for them to feel as part of a society and to avoid complications, which may occur due to stress or even mood disorder. A patient is recommended to visit a pathologist in case he/she starts to show signs and symptoms related to cancer. Cancer can be prevented through early screening where a person visits a doctor for a checkup, as most symptoms of cancer may occur at a late stage.

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