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Approach to Cancer Care

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Cancer is the uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells in a person’s body. There are many types of cancer. As an approach to care, cancer must be diagnosed at an early stage in order to improve the chances of treatment and eventually survival (National Cancer Institute, 2011). This essay gives the understanding of the approach to the cancer care.

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The dynamic and advancing technology has enabled several ways to diagnose cancer. The first way is imaging techniques, which are able to locate a tumor in the body and show the organs affected by the tumor. These techniques include: X-rays, which are the most commonly used to detect the cancer growths in the stomach, intestines and breasts. CT Scans (computerized axial tomography) and MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) are more precise methods compared to X-rays, ultrasounds and PET Scans which are used to detect cancer in the bones. Extraction of suspected cancerous cells and examining them under a microscope is the absolute way of diagnosing cancer and is referred to as a biopsy. Other methods include endoscopy, blood tests, bone marrow aspirations and pap tests (National Cancer Institute, 2011).

Usually after a diagnosis set, doctors determine how far the cancer has spread and developed in order to determine its stage. Cancer staging is very important as it helps the doctor to administer the right treatment and estimate the patient’s prognosis. Elements considered while staging cancer include tumor size and number of tumors, lymph node involvement and presence of metastasis (Kenny, 2007). The common practice is to assign numbers from I- IV. The TNM staging system is the most widely accepted and used system and bases on the size and extent of the tumor (T), degree of spread to lymph nodes (N) and existence of distant metastasis (M) (Bearhs & Henson1992). A figure is further added to each of the letters to show the size, development and extent of the tumor and extent of its increase. For many cancer types, TNM corresponds to any of five stages in the number of forms, which is also known as overall stage grouping (Bearhs & Henson, 1992).

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  • Stage 0: carcinoma in citu i.e. presence of abnormal cells;
  • Stage I: Cancer is primarily in one body part, where it began;
  • Stage II: Cancer is locally advanced;
  • Stage III: spread to lymph nodes of body organs adjacent to localized area;
  • Stage IV: spread to other organs (Kenny, 2007).

Cancer brings along quite a number of complications to the body. Regarding the type of cancer, some of the complications include pain, fatigue, shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing, weight loss and nausea. In some cases cancer causes the immune system to act unusually. Sometimes the body’s immune system may react to the presence of cancerous cells and attack healthy cells leading to seizures and difficulty in walking.

Treatment of cancer involves chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, drug treatment and even transplantation. These methods have some severe side effects, which can be both psychological and physiological. Most of the side effects are similar to those caused by cancer itself, such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting and pain. Anemia is another side effect of cancer treatment, when the number of red blood cells in the body is lower than the required amount which causes an individual to feel weak. Other physiological side effects of cancer treatment include hair loss, lymph edema, reduced sexual desire and infections. Emotional side effects of cancer and its treatment include feelings of distress, anxiety, fear and depression.

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There are several ways how a person can minimize both the physical and psychological effects of cancer. In order to reduce the emotional effects of cancer and its treatment, support groups, guidance and counseling are very important in order to be able to cope with the disease. This will encourage the patients to continue the treatment and lift their spirits. In addition, patients should establish a good communication with their doctors. To reduce the physical effects, cancer patients should avoid risk factors such as smoking and drinking and lack of exercise and instead, opt for a healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet and exercise (National Cancer Institute, 2011).

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