Today, an entire branch of medicine is engaged in oncology. Specialists study tumors, treat patients, and try to find various ways to prevent the emergence of cancer. Those patients who can recognize the symptoms of oncology at an early stage have the maximum chances of survival. Cancer is manifested in the form of malignant tumors that are cells reproducing without any control and damaging other organs. Malignant tumors can metastasize, i.e., invade adjacent tissues and spread through the body through lymph and blood flow. Sometimes, benign tumors can emerge. Such neoplasms are limited in size; they do not destruct other tissues. Therefore, it is important to determine the most optimal approach to cancer treatment since this disease has many complications and is one of the most problematic concerning the peculiarities of treatment.
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Diagnosis of Cancer
The diagnosis of cancer can be made at different stages, and it is one of the fundamental factors of treatment. According to Lyratzopoulos, Abel, McPhail, Neal, and Rubin (2013), the timely identification of a problem is a rather good condition for coping with the disease and preventing metastasis. At later stages, the situation is complicated by the fact that cancer cells actively spread in the human body, and it is much harder to get rid of them.
Early Diagnosis of Cancer
The early diagnosis of cancer is established if there are symptoms and signs of malignant neoplasms. However, before a final diagnosis, it is necessary to make sure that it is correct. Therefore, a patient has to participate in some examinations including radiography, endoscopy, computed tomography, and blood tests. As Lyratzopoulos et al. (2013) note, if there is no evident symptomatology, a screening test should be performed. Such analyses are suitable for most people. They are safe, inexpensive, and provide a minimum number of false-positive results. If these tests confirm the presence of malignant cells in the body, repeated studies should be carried out to confirm the diagnosis.
Late Diagnosis of Cancer
If it is impossible to detect cancer at an early stage, oncologists usually resort to specific methods. It is about a radiation diagnosis that is made with the use of various techniques. Ultrasonography helps to provide information about the localization of the tumor, its structure, and its size. An endoscopic diagnosis involves taking neoplasm tissue for further research and allows checking the condition of the mucous membrane of a particular organ. The biopsy is one of the obligatory operations that can help to confirm the presence of a malignant tumor. Also, some experts resort to the method of immunodiagnostics that makes it possible to evaluate the immune system responses to particular types of cancer.
Staging of Cancer
In total, four stages of cancer are distinguished, and each of them is characterized by the distinctive signs of manifestation, as well as a particular treatment method that may be optimal. According to Lee, Lee, and Kim (2015), it is possible to count on a patient’s full recovery if the disease is diagnosed at the initial stage of its development. In case a proper treatment begins only at the last stage, chances for a complete cure are minimal.
First Stage of Cancer
The first stage is the very beginning of the disease. At this phase, the cancerous tumor is characterized by the small size. The clinical picture does not imply the presence of metastases, and the lymphatic system is not affected by the disease. However, it is complicated to recognize the infection at the initial stage since the malignant tumor is nearly invisible, and no symptoms are observed. The heaviest danger is small-celled cancer that spreads metastases almost instantaneously.
Second Stage of Cancer
The second stage of cancer is characterized by the presence of a bigger malignant tumor in comparison with the previous phase. Symptoms include increased cough, periodical pains, and fever. Quite often, patients complain of the lack of air; they can quickly lose weight and experience fatigue regularly. The outcome of treatment depends entirely on the quality of performed procedures.
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Third Stage of Cancer
The symptoms of the third stage are evident. Doctors prescribe narcotic drugs to alleviate the condition of patients. The main treatment at this step is to suppress the division of malignant cells: some chemical preparations are selected depending on the clinical picture of the disease (Lee et al., 2015). However, drug treatment does not always give positive results as neoplasms progress and destroy the body from the inside.
Fourth Stage of Cancer
The fourth stage of cancer is no longer the subject of treatment and always ends in a fatal outcome. At this phase, the damage to nearby tissues is noted. Moreover, the fourth stage is often accompanied by the defeat of not only one part of the body. Metastases penetrate into other organs, and it is impossible to provide any medical assistance. Patients at this stage cannot live longer than a few months, and the task of the nurses of oncological centers and hospices is to provide all necessary care for pain reduction.
Complications of Cancer
Despite a considerable number of oncological diseases and their diversity, complications are often typical and similar (Scaife et al., 2013). It is necessary to understand what is at stake since the ailment quite often has no symptoms at the first stages and thus can grow up to the third and fourth stages. It happens that the complication that emerges is the first clinical manifestation of the disease. There are several typical signs of the complications of cancer.
This type of symptom is not a rare first manifestation of the disease. Hemoptysis, as it frequently happens with lung cancer, is a strong reason to consult a doctor. Malignant tumors in kidneys and the bladder are manifested through blood in the urine. There are cases of severe bleeding that occur when one of the large blood vessels is damaged.
This factor should be taken into account when the usual way of life remains unchanged, but a person continues to slenderize. Weight loss is one of the first symptoms of cancer at any stage. It is because the body is struggling with tissue damage, which causes the excess of energy released, resulting in fat tissue leaving faster than necessary. The feeling of too rapid weight loss is one of the manifestations and complications of cancer, and it concerns not only the digestive system but also any other organ.
Compression of Large Blood Vessels
This issue is manifested in blood vessels located near the tumor. It is hard to compress large arteries and aorta; however, veins have weaker walls and are subject to an excessive load. Lower and upper hollow vessels are damaged most often (Scaife et al., 2013). Many patients experience this problem and even do not know about their dangerous illnesses. Clinical manifestation occurs in the form of a vast number of veins with varicose dilatation in the lower or upper part of the body.
Side Effects of Treatment
The treatment of oncological diseases, as a rule, includes the course of chemotherapy. This method is used mainly in the last stages of cancer. As DeSantis et al. (2014) remark, chemotherapeutic treatment leads to the development of osteoporosis, when bone tissue weakens, becomes fragile, and undergoes traumatic injuries. Nausea, frequent vomiting, and intestinal disorders are the most common side effects of chemotherapy. Besides, hair follicles are highly exposed to adverse effects; therefore, taking drugs is often accompanied by baldness. Other side effects are anemia, memory impairment, and the discoloration of the skin and nails.
Methods to Lessen Physical and Psychological Effects
The combination of physical activity with chemotherapy has quite a significant impact on the process of cancer treatment. Particular complexes of exercises are an effective means of fighting against chronic fatigue (Silver & Baima, 2013). Also, an oncological patient should adhere to the same principles of proper nutrition as all other people. The use of traditional medicine, as a rule, is not approved by professional doctors. Many of these methods of treatment are practically harmless; nevertheless, there are those that can lead to an entirely unpredictable result, for example, severe damage to a diseased organ.
A patient’s belief in the psychological causes of cancer and the possibility of regression by working with a psychologist is the source of a favorable mental state. According to Silver and Baima (2013), various courses and training will help people with the diagnosis of cancer adapt to their new conditions of life and reduce the risk of developing mental disorders caused by a shock after treatment. Participation in such programs is desirable for most patients.
Thus, this or that approach to the care of cancer should take into account all the characteristics of this dangerous disease. It is important to diagnose the ailment at an early stage; otherwise, any procedures may be ineffective. The disease almost always occurs with different side effects that must be detected timely manner to fight with them. Physical exercises, as well as psychological help, can become additional treatment resources.
DeSantis, C. E., Lin, C. C., Mariotto, A. B., Siegel, R. L., Stein, K. D., Kramer, J. L.,… Jemal, A. (2014). Cancer treatment and survivorship statistics. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 64(4), 252-271.
Lee, H. A., Lee, T. Y., & Kim, Y. R. (2015). Comparative analysis of stomach cancer stages and related factors according to the diagnosis path. Journal of the Korea Academia-Industrial Cooperation Society, 16(4), 2656-2664.
Lyratzopoulos, G., Abel, G. A., McPhail, S., Neal, R. D., & Rubin, G. P. (2013). Measures of promptness of cancer diagnosis in primary care: Secondary analysis of national audit data on patients with 18 common and rarer cancers. British Journal of Cancer, 108(3), 686-690.
Scaife, C. L., Hartz, A., Pappas, L., Pelletier, P., He, T., Glasgow, R. E., & Mulvihill, S. J. (2013). Association between postoperative complications and clinical cancer outcomes. Annals of Surgical Oncology, 20(13), 4063-4066.
Silver, J. K., & Baima, J. (2013). Cancer prehabilitation: An opportunity to decrease treatment-related morbidity, increase cancer treatment options, and improve physical and psychological health outcomes. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 92(8), 715-727.
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