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Approach to Care. Human Cancer

Overall, cancer can be defined as a group of diseases which are caused by the uncontrolled division of cells (Brown, Issacs & Krinke, 2007, p 438). There is great variety of cancers, and they are classified according to the type of sell, which the tumor imitates. There is no universal technique for the diagnosis of cancer, since its symptoms vary and at its initial stages the patient may not feel pain or any other discomfort. The most common signs of this disease can be divided into three groups; 1) systemic symptoms such as general fatigue, increased perspiration, fever, and the loss of weight; 2) local presentations like swelling, bleeding, cough or pain; 3) the third group is usually called “medical emergencies” which may include the compression of the spinal cord, bowel obstruction, surplus of calcium in the blood, and so forth (Olver, p 3). The major difficulty is that these symptoms resemble those ones of other diseases, and this great complicates diagnosis. Early diagnosis and treatment greatly increase the chance of survival, and the patients, who do have these symptoms, should not hesitate to consult a healthcare professional.

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It is possible to single out several methods that can be used by patients and physicians in order to detect cancer. First we need to speak about self-examination and palpation, which are particularly helpful to the patients with breast, prostate, or testicular cancer. Secondly, we should mention laryngoscopy, used to detect throat cancer, and endoscopy that is often applied to diagnose colorectal or cervical cancer (Ensley, 2003). Yet, one should bear in mind that these methods are more appropriate for screening, and it is vital that nurses are aware of these screening procedures and able to recognize the signs of cancer.

More accurate results can be obtained through such tests as X-ray examination, sputum cytology, biotopsy, and so forth (Ensley, 2003). Nurses and physicians must bear in mind that some of these tests, for example, X-ray examination cannot be used on a regular basis since they lead to many complications. Another important task of a medical worker is to convince the patient that it is necessary to undergo examination. The problem is that the diagnosis of cancer is sometimes viewed by people as a death sentence and they are extremely afraid of taking medical tests. Therefore, a medical worker must help these people overcome this fear which makes the prevention and treatment of these diseases so difficult.

At this point is necessary to describe the staging of this disease. The key issue is that each form of this disease has its own staging system, this may create some difficulties for the medical workers, especially if the patient is transferred from one hospital to another. The most widespread approach, used nowadays is called TNM (Tumor, Node, and Metastasis). It focuses on such criteria as the size of tumor, the lesion of lymph nodes, and the presence or absence of metastases (Cooper, 1992, 26). Still, in some cases different staging systems can be adopted, for example, Ann Arbor Staging for lymphomas or the scale for Hodgkin’s disease (Cooper, 1992). On the whole, the staging system are important for physicians who make prognosis of disease and choose the mode of treatment.

Complications of cancer and available treatments

Cancer can give rise to a great number of complications; in this section of the paper, we will discuss only three of them. One of them is spinal cord compression, which may be caused by prostate cancer, lymphoma, or breast cancer (Mumenthaler & Mattle, 2005, p 146). This disorder has several manifestations, namely, the stiffness in legs, the dysfunction of bladder, back pain, paraesthesia, or burning sensation around abdomen or chest (Mumenthaler & Mattle, 2005, p 146). The treatment of this disorder can involve the use of dexamethasone, which is an anti-inflammatory substance that reduces edema (Mumenthaler & Mattle, 2005, p 93). Still, in acute cases, surgical intervention is the only solution. Additionally, we need to speak about the radiation therapy and chemotherapy, which come after operation. The choice of treatment mode greatly depends on the type of cancer because some tumors may be vulnerable to the radiation or chemotherapy, while others are more resistant. We need to stress an idea that such complications normally occur at later stages of disease, and early referral to the hospital can prevent them or at least minimize their impacts.

The second complication is pleural effusion, which is an excess of fluid (above 25 mL. level) in the intrapleural space (Yabro, Wujcik, & Gobel, 2010, p 1570). It is the result of metastatic ovarian cancer. This disorder is normally associated with such symptoms as dry cough, hypoxia, and fever (Yabro, Wujcik, & Gobel, 2010, p 1570). Under such circumstances, medical workers usually conduct such procedure as thoracentesis during which a surgical puncture is made in the pleural cavity in order to gain the samples of fluid. The results of these tests will enable the physician to better select the treatment mode. It will be necessary to perform either surgical or chemical pleurodesis which is the obliteration of the pleural space, preventing the accumulation of fluid between membranes (Yabro, Wujcik, & Gobel, 2010, p 868). The physician may also use the drainage catheter, this method is more beneficial since it allows the patient to drain the fluid without assistance of the medical worker, and such patients do not always have to be hospitalized.

The third complication that we can mention is vena cava obstruction that results from the spread of cancer into the caval wall or into mediastinum (Stoelting, Hines, & Marschall, 2008, p 506). It leads to the dilation of veins and subsequent swelling of bodily organs, usually face and arms. The patient, suffering from this disorder, usually experiences shortness of breath, and giddiness. There are several treatment modes, available to this person. First, we need to speak about chemotherapy and radiation which are used to stop the growth of the tumor (Stoelting, Hines, & Marschall, 2008, p 506). In addition, the physician may prescribe diuretics to the patient. As a rule, these complications occur at later stages of cancer development. On the whole, this information emphasizes the importance of screening and early diagnosis. The prevention of cancer and cancer-related complication is a common task of nurses, physicians, and patients, who need to undergo examinations on a regular basis.

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Ways to address physiological and psychological aftereffects of care

It should be borne in mind that various treatment modes frequently entail both physiological and psychological aftereffects that have to be overcome by the patient. In this case, the role of medical workers becomes pivotal. For example, radiotherapy causes nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue and intensified bowel movements (Engert, 2010, p 133). Special attention should be given to the needs of these patients in order to minimize physical discomfort.

Nonetheless, the most important task is to provide reassurance to these patients, because many of them are prone to depression. Physicians and nurses should also consult the patient’s relatives. They need to be told that people, who have undergone radiotherapy, may become irritable and quick-tempered. It is of the crucial importance that the relatives are morally prepared for this change in the personality of the patient. One should take into account that some patients may conceal the fact that they feel some physiological or psychological discomfort because they do not want to distress their relatives. Medical workers need to convince them that such reticence and unwillingness to share one’s problems can greatly hinder the process of recovery or even endanger the patient’s health and life.

Those people, who have undergone surgical operations, also experience painful sensations, fatigue, and occasional bleeding. It is the responsibility of physicians to develop a set of exercises that would enable these patients to recover their former strength. In their turn, nurses have to make sure that this person does these exercises on a regular basis and in a proper way. Apart from that, cancer surgery often results in disfigurement, and some of the patients, especially women are extremely concerned about their body image and physical incapacity. Physicians and nurses need to explain to them that these scars are not permanent and that many of them can be removed. Again, we cannot underestimate the importance of moral support, given by healthcare professionals and relatives. Their collaboration can play a pivotal role in the recovery of the patient.

Reference List

Brown J. Issacs J. & Krinke. U. (2007) Nutrition Through the Life Cycle. NY: Cengage Learning.

Cooper. G. (1992). Elements of human cancer. NY: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Ensley. J. (2003) Head and neck cancer: emerging perspectives. London: Gulf Professional Publishing.

Engert. A. (2010). Hodgkin Lymphoma. NY: Springer.

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Mumenthaler. M. & Mattle. H. (2005). Fundamentals of neurology: an illustrated guide. Thieme.

Olver. I. (2011). The MASCC Textbook of Cancer Supportive Care and Survivorship. NJ: Springer.

Yabro. C. Wujcik D. & Gobel. B. (2010) Cancer Nursing: Principles and Practice. NY: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Stoeling. R. Hines R. & Marschall K. (2008). Stoelting’s anesthesia and co-existing disease. NJ: Elsevier Health Sciences.

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