Cancer is “a health condition characterized by abnormal growth and enlargement of different body cells” (Bohkenkamp, LeBaron, & Yoder, 2007, p. 1). The condition is also known as malignancy. Oeffinger and Hudson (2004) believe that there are hundreds of malignancies affecting humankind today. The common types include prostate, skin, lung, prostate, colon, and breast cancers (Guimaraes et al., 2014). The symptoms associated with these cancers vary significantly depending on the stage and type. Physicians and researchers have been looking for new methods to treat these conditions. Some of the widely used treatment methods include surgery, radiation, medicine, and chemotherapy. This paper gives a detailed approach to the care of cancer. The other issues discussed include the diagnosis and staging of cancer. The major complications and side effects associated with various treatment methods are also described.
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Diagnosis and Staging of Cancer
Early diagnosis of cancer is the best way towards dealing with the condition. According to Austin, Henley, Richardson, and Eheman (2014), early detection of different cancers can increase the chances of survival. Several methods are therefore used to diagnose the disease. To begin with, individuals can self-examine themselves in order to identify any abnormal tumor (Bohkenkamp et al., 2007). However, studies have indicated that many cancers are detected accidentally when physicians are treating other diseases. Doctors can use laboratory studies to detect any form of abnormality in the body. Such tests can be used to study stools, urine samples, and blood. After a tumor or abnormality is observed, the doctor can use imaging technologies to determine the nature, location, and size of cancer. Some of the widely used imaging tests include “computed tomography (CT), X-rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), fiber-optic endoscopy exams, and ultrasound” (Austin et al., 2014, p. 193).
These diagnostic methods make it easier for physicians to identify the location and severity of cancer. Confirmatory studies are conducted using biopsies. A biopsy is done by “removing a sample of the affected tissue and studying it using a powerful microscope” (Oeffinger & Hudson, 2004, p. 210). This approach is effective in monitoring the presence of cancerous cells (Oeffinger & Hudson, 2004). Imaging techniques are essential because they establish the stage of targeted cancer. Staging is widely used to identify the precise location of the cancerous cells. This knowledge is used to determine the most appropriate treatment method.
Cancer: Approach to Care
The severities and death rates associated with different cancers explain why physicians have been looking for the best approaches to care (Bohkenkamp et al., 2007). Doctors have the potential to treat a number of cancers. However, some malignancies are hard to eradicate especially when diagnosed at their later stages. Cancer care is a multidisciplinary approach aimed at availing the most appropriate competencies and skills that can support the needs of more patients (Oeffinger & Hudson, 2004). The ultimate goal of cancer care is to ensure every targeted patient leads a better life. It is important to understand that several aspects dictate the success and effectiveness of every cancer care approach.
Multidisciplinary Cancer Care
To begin with, a multidisciplinary cancer care approach identifies the best treatment options for different patients. This fact explains why a quality cancer care approach must be managed by a multidisciplinary team. A “multidisciplinary cancer care approach is the one that brings together different health professionals in order to promote the best care and treatment options” (Oeffinger & Hudson, 2004, p. 214). In order to achieve the best results, the team should be comprised of different professionals such as caregivers, physicians, patients, community members, and relatives of the targeted patient. The team or group will, therefore, develop the most appropriate care plan. Each member of the team is allowed to present evidence-based ideas that have the potential to deliver the best outcomes (A Multidisciplinary Team Approach to Cancer Care, 2016).
The team-based care approach has been observed to deliver positive outcomes in different regions (Oeffinger & Hudson, 2004). This is the case because members of the teamwork together to present quality ideas that have the potential to maximize the patient’s health outcomes. Oeffinger and Hudson (2004) argue that “multidisciplinary teams reduce most of the delays in treatment, support, and referral to various services” (p. 214). As well, the approach has been observed to improve the mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing of every patent.
The team offers supportive care in an attempt to meet the psychological, spiritual, social, and emotional needs of the patient. This caring approach makes it possible for the right specialists to design the most appropriate treatment regime for the targeted cancer patient. The team might also decide to combine two or more treatment methods depending on the severity of the condition. The major “treatment options include hormone therapy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery” (Font et al., 2015, p. 4). Chemotherapy is a treatment approach whereby various drugs are used to destroy malignant cells or slow their growth rates (Bohkenkamp et al., 2007). Radiotherapy is widely used to destroy the affected cells using strong radiations.
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Benefits of Multidisciplinary Cancer Care
Evidence-based researches have shown that multidisciplinary approaches have the potential to support the needs of many cancer patients. These teams present appropriate competencies that can address targeted cancer depending on their stage and location. The care approach gives the patient immediate access to professional healthcare practitioners (A Multidisciplinary Team Approach to Cancer Care, 2016). Such professionals will design the most desirable treatment plan for the condition. The caregivers can combine several treatment regimes in order to produce positive results.
Some factors might arise thus affecting the success of the cancer care process. The team will identify such problems and offer desirable supportive care. The patient will also have access to referral services. The quality of care-coordination improves thus reducing medical errors (Oeffinger & Hudson, 2004). The person receiving this care will not have to travel to different hospitals (Austin et al., 2014). Patients will also be allowed to participate in the cancer management process. This move also makes it easier for them to receive quality information.
Integrative oncology is also a critical component of multidisciplinary care (Font et al., 2015). This holistic approach ensures that the team develops positive relationships with their patients. The team “emphasizes the importance of healing and wholeness of the patient” (Font et al., 2015, p. 7). The four meta-paradigms of nursing are embraced thus promoting positive team-patient relationships. The team also identifies new pain management approaches. They also deal with problems such as loss of sleep and appetite. The major competencies promoted by this care approach include communication, inclusiveness, and respect. Patient advocacy becomes a common practice thus improving the quality of care.
Complications of Cancer
The methods used to treat cancer have been known to produce several complications. Pain is one of the complications associated with cancer treatment and management (Austin et al., 2014). This pain makes it impossible for affected patients to lead quality lives. The second problem revolves around weight loss. The methods used to treat cancer can result in constant weight loss. The disease also steals nutrients from different body cells thus resulting in reduced body mass (Austin et al., 2014). The third complication is “increased breathing difficulty” (Font et al., 2015, p. 3). The disease and various treatment methods result in shortness of breath.
Side Effects of Treatment
Some side effects arise due to the major treatments used to deal with cancer. The first side effect is nausea. This problem results from the medicines and therapies used to treat the condition. The second side effect is fatigue. Various methods such as radiation and chemotherapy can result in fatigue (Bohkenkamp et al., 2007). However, fatigue might only last for a short period. The third side effect results from the drugs used to deal with cancer. Some drugs can cause chemical changes in different parts of the body. These chemical changes will eventually result in confusion, frequent urination, prolonged thirst, and constipation.
Lessening Psychological and Physical Effects
The treatment approaches used to deal with cancer often produce different side effects. Several methods can, therefore, be used to lessen the physical and psychological effects of such complications. The first approach entails the use of antidepressants. A good example is the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). This antidepressant is cable of dealing with fatigue (Guimaraes et al., 2014). The psychological effects associated with hair loss can be addressed using various methods. Individuals can use wigs and hats after chemotherapy. Some people can “cut off their hair before treatment” (Bohkenkamp et al., 2007, p. 7). Psychotherapy is another powerful method that can support the psychological and physical needs of many cancer patients.
A Multidisciplinary Team Approach to Cancer Care. (2016). Web.
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Bohkenkamp, S., LeBaron, V., & Yoder, L. (2007).The Medical-Surgical Nurse’s Guide to Ovarian Cancer: Part I. MEDSURG Nursing, 16(1), 1-9.
Font, C., Fernandez-Aviles, F., Calderon, C., Garcia-Fernandez, T., Arab, N., Pineda, E.,…Tuca, A. (2015). Home management of acute medical complications in cancer patients: a prospective pilot study. Support Care Cancer, 1(1), 1-9.
Guimaraes, M., Bitencourt, A., Marchiori, E., Chojniak, R., Gross, J., & Kundra, V. (2014). Imaging acute complications in cancer patients: what should be evaluated in the emergency setting. Cancer Imaging, 14(18), 1-12.
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