Cancer Diagnosis, Treatment, and Approach to Care

Introduction

Treatment of cancer is one of the major concerns of the modern healthcare sector as it is a problem significantly deteriorating the quality of people’s lives and resulting in numerous deaths. Despite multiple attempts to introduce efficient approaches and provide patients with care promoting their recovery, the problem still remains topical. Moreover, there is a tendency towards the sophistication of the given issue because of the critical state of the environment in some regions, poor access to care, and unhealthy food supplements (Weinberg, 2013).

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For this reason, the primary task of health facilities is to achieve success in diagnosing, managing complications, and treating all kinds of cancer affecting patients. The given paper delves into the fundamental aspects of this disease to improve the comprehension of the problem and understand how it can be managed in the modern health setting.

Background

The choice of the topic for the paper is preconditioned by the outstanding relevance of the problem. The global statistics show that 15 million new cancer cases are reported by all health facilities globally, and the disease preconditions an estimated 9,6 million deaths (1 in 6 deaths) every year (WHO, 2018). 70% of all lethal outcomes occur in countries with low and poor income, which means that the situation will remain complex because of the problematic conditions and environment (WHO, 2018). In accordance with forecasts, by the end of 2030, about 23,6 million individuals will have different forms of cancer (WHO, 2018).

Regarding the scope of the problem and large population groups affected by it, cancer acquires the top priority for the modern healthcare sector. There is a need to use innovative methods of treatment and diagnosing to manage various forms of cancer effectively and improve the quality of patients’ lives. That is why new ways used in the healthcare sector should be discussed.

Diagnosing

The modern diagnosis of cancer consists of several aspects that are critical for the correct determination of cancer, its form, and treatment options. Being a qualified specialist, an oncologist should start working with a patient by making blood tests required to reveal if there are any markers of cancer that can prove the existence of the health issue (Weinberg, 2013). However, the efficiency of blood tests is doubted because of their inability to determine the type of cancer, tumor size, and its peculiarities (“Understanding cancer – diagnosis and treatment,” n.d.).

That is why the existing guidelines recommend using imaging procedures such as CT scan, MRI, nuclear scan, ultrasound, PET scan, or X-rays to examine a patient (Abdelkhalek, Sherief, Kamai, & Soliman, 2014). The choice of a tool depends on the peculiarities of every case and patients. They will help to locate a tumor and state the type of the disease affecting an individual.

However, to acquire the complete image of the disease including the information about the cellular structure, a sample of tissues damaged by cancer should be withdrawn by the endoscope, specific needle, or surgery (Abdelkhalek et al., 2014). The procedure is called a biopsy, and it helps an oncologist to take a sample of fluid or tissues with damaged cells that will be later investigated to make the final diagnosis.

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Stages

In the majority of cases, the early stages of cancer can be treated by using various methods the choice of which depends on the disease. For this reason, the determination of cancer stages is critical for efficient diagnosing as it helps to provide the required and timely care. The modern approach to staging rests on the information about the size of a tumor, its location, grade, and cell type (Weinberg, 2013). It is also critical to determine if the nearby tissues and lymph nodes are affected by the disease or not and whether other parts of the body have alterations emerging under the impact of cancer cells (Weinberg, 2013). In such a way, there are five stages of cancer that are differentiated by oncologists.

Stage 0 indicates that a patient has cancer; however, cancer cells have not spread to other tissues, and there are no signs of complications; it can also be called by specialists carcinoma in situ (CIS), and it poses a threat to patient’s health as it can transform into real cancer if left untreated (“Stages of cancer,” 2015). For stages, I, II, III, criteria are similar and depend on the size of a tumor, the presence of the cancer cells in other tissues, and the degree to which they are damaged (“Stages of cancer,” 2015). The IV stage is the most difficult and shows that numerous parts of the body are affected and damaged by the disease (“Stages of cancer,” 2015). This universal staging is used by oncologists to diagnose a patient and consider the use of appropriate treatment.

Complications

Cancer also gives rise to multiple health issues in patients because of the systemic character of this disease and its ability to impact body systems. For instance, central nervous system complications impact from 15% to 20% of all individuals suffering from the disease (Abdelkhalek et al., 2014). In many cases, it happens because of tumors in the brain of the patient (Kostopoulou, Siroa, Round, Samaranayaka, & Delanev, 2016).

However, there are indirect ways in which cancer affects the nervous system, they are a paraneoplastic neurologic syndrome and the spread of damaged tissues (Abdelkhalek et al., 2014). These complications can become even more severe because of the chemotherapy or radiation damaging the central nervous system of the patient who undergoes treatment (Abdelkhalek et al., 2014). Their treatment includes assessment of patients’ neurological states by oncologists and other health workers to support patients in their struggle against cancer and provide prompt care of the tumor.

Another common type of complications includes bone metastases that emerge during the disease and treatment process. By the statistics, up to 75% of patients report the emergence of this health problem (Kostopoulou et al., 2016). It can become a significant issue because of pain, gradual deterioration of the quality of life, and new complications. For this reason, it is critical to monitor this very aspect. Statistics also evidence that a significant number of patients face the risk of acquiring endocrine abnormalities such as hypercalcemia, adrenal insufficiency, and inappropriate antidiuretic secretion (Kostopoulou et al., 2016).

These develop under the impact of cancer and its negative effect on all tissues in the body. There is a risk of hematologic disorders and gastrointestinal problems in patients who have this disease. All these complications can be eliminated in the course of treatment while the size of a tumor decreases. At the same time, patients should be provided with pharmacological support regarding a type of complication.

Cancer is also known as one of the primary causes of the appearance and development of clinical depression. The complex character of the disease along with painful treatment and rehabilitation has a negative impact on patients’ moods, motivation, and desire to struggle. In accordance with the statistics, 70% of all patients diagnosed with cancer have depression or other psychological disorders (Weinberg, 2013). This state is complicated by pain associated with the surgical treatment of cancer, its complications, and the risk of losing limbs, lymph nodes, and breast. In this regard, cancer might result in the emergence of multiple complications that should be treated to ensure positive results. In severe cases, antidepressants or tranquilizers can be prescribed to eliminate negative states.

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Side Effects of Treatment and Methods to Lessen Them

Another problem associated with cancer is multiple complications emerging in the process of treatment because of its pernicious impact on all parts of the body. Chemotherapy or radiation exposure might undermine the health of the patient and affect healthy tissues. The most common side effects of treatment include problems with skin and hair explained by the negative impact of chemotherapy (Weinberg, 2013). Patients also admit a significant decrease in appetite, anemia, bleeding, edema, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea. These effects complicate the treatment and demand interventions to mitigate them.

One of the ways to lessen the effects mentioned above is psychological aid provided by the specialist working in the sphere. The positive attitude helps to reduce negative states, and a psychologist is focused on the demonstration of benefits and increase of the motivation to struggle. At the same time, physical exercises such as yoga might also have a positive impact on patients and their states (Weinberg, 2013). In the most complex cases, an oncologist can prescribe pharmacological intervention to lessen the negative effect of treatment on patients. Finally, family support is also considered a positive method to overcome pain.

Conclusion

Altogether, cancer is still one of the major concerns of the modern healthcare sector. For this reason, much attention is devoted to its diagnosing and treatment. The existing approach presupposes the use of additional equipment to determine the existence of cancer and its type. Moreover, oncologists introduce specific classification regarding the stage of the disease to select the most appropriate treatment. Unfortunately, there are multiple complications and side effects of treatment that should be managed to assist patients in their recovery.

References

Abdelkhalek, E., Sherief, M., Kamai, N., & Soliman, R. (2014). Factors associated with delayed cancer diagnosis in Egyptian children. Clinical Medicine Insights: Pediatrics, 8, 39-44. Web.

Kostopoulou, O., Siroa, M., Round, T., Samaranayaka, S., & Delanev, B. (2016). The role of physicians’ first impressions in the diagnosis of possible cancers without alarm symptoms. Medical Decision Making, 37(1), 9-16. Web.

Stages of cancer. (2015). Web.

Understanding cancer – diagnosis and treatment. (n.d.). Web.

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Weinberg, R. (2013). The biology of cancer (2nd ed.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

WHO. (2018). Cancer. Key facts. Web.

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