Cancer Stages, Treatment and Side Effects


The modern healthcare sector faces numerous challenges that include diverse diseases deteriorating the quality of life of the nation and resulting in the appearance of complex problems among the population. Moreover, the sophistication of these issues increases every year due to the tendency towards the further worsening of the environment, poor living conditions, the lack of access to health care in some regions of the world (“Worldwide cancer statistics,” n.d.). Considering the fact that the gradual improvement of the quality of life is one of the pivotal tasks of the healthcare sector, its ability to diagnose, manage, and treat the most topical problems acquires the top priority. At the moment, such problems as HIV, tuberculosis, and all types of cancer are the most significant ones. Regarding the current statistics demonstrating the further increase in the number of cases of cancer, it becomes a central challenge for all health units (“Worldwide cancer statistics,” n.d.). For this reason, the paper delves into the peculiarities of diagnosing, managing, complications, and side effects of treatment of cancer.

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In accordance with the recent statistics, around 15 million of new cases of cancer occur worldwide every year (Siegel, Miller, & Jemal, 2017). Moreover, by the end of 2030, about 23,6 million of patients will be diagnosed with the illness (Worldwide cancer statistics,” n.d.). 8,2 people die from this disease worldwide every year (“Worldwide cancer statistics,” n.d.). These threatening statistics evidence the need for the increased attention to the issue and implementation of the advanced methods of diagnosing, treating, and monitoring patients with this disease. Moreover, there are different cases of cancer that demand various approaches to providing care and working with patients. For this reason, today one can observe the tendency towards the appearance of new ways to discover cases of the illness and assist patients in their recovery.


Working with a patient who has symptoms indicating cancer, a therapist or oncologist has to initiate a diagnosing procedure that includes several aspects. First, lab and blood tests should be used to determine if there are any signs of cancer. However, in the majority of cases, these are not enough to create the complete image and diagnose the type of cancer and its basic peculiarities. For this reason, imaging procedures are recommended to acquire detailed pictures of areas inside a patients body and see whether any tumor is present (“Understanding cancer – diagnosis and treatment,” n.d.). An oncologist might use CT Scan, nuclear scan, ultrasound, MRI, PET scam, or X-rays as diagnosing procedures to investigate a case (Harvey & DeSouza, 2016). All these methods help to discover a tumor, its size, location and determine a type of cancer. Furthermore, to take a sample of damaged tissue and analyze its peculiarities, in the majority of cases oncologists prescribe a biopsy (Harvey & DeSouza, 2016). Using a needle, an endoscope, or a specific surgery, a specialist withdraws tissue or fluid containing damaged cells. It helps to formulate the final diagnosis and prescribe an appropriate treatment.


Efficient diagnosing is extremely important as it might help to determine cancer at its early stage and improve outcomes. Therefore, diverse staging systems are used for the majority of types of cancer. In general, staging rests on the information about the tumors location in the body of a patient, the cell type (adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, etc. ), the size of the tumor, its grade, whether cancer has affected nearby lymph nodes, and whether it has spread to another part of the body (Harvey & DeSouza, 2016). This information is crucial for treatment and outcomes. Thus, regarding the above-mentioned data, there are five stages of cancer. Stage 0 means that abnormal cells are found in the body, but they have not spread to nearby tissue (“Stages of cancer,” 2015). It could also be called carcinoma in situ (CIS). CIS might become cancer in time. Stage I, II, III means that cancer is found. The difference in numbers indicates the size of the tumor and its spread into nearby tissues (“Stages of cancer,” 2015). Finally, stage IV demonstrates that the disease is extremely severe and has already spread to distant parts of the body (“Stages of cancer,” 2015). The given staging is introduced to structure the approach to treatment and describe the disease in the most efficient way.


Speaking of cancer, it is also crucial to mention complications that might appear among patients who have this very disease. Nevertheless, neurological ones are common in people suffering from the illness as it often affects the nervous system and might precondition neurologic morbidity and mortality (Schmidt, 2014). These effects might be caused by tumor found in the brain (direct effects), or indirect as in paraneoplastic neurologic syndromes (Schmidt, 2014). Additionally, treatment of cancer might be too dangerous and result in the appearance of cause effects damaging central nervous system and promoting the emergence of numerous complications. It constitutes a serious problem regardless the type of cancer and its stage. For this reason, monitoring the neurological state of a patient and his/her mental abilities is crucial for positive outcomes and a significant improvement of the state of the health of a patient.

Another type of complications is related to the aftermath of surgery patients have to experience to excise a tumor and prevent the further spread of cancer. For instance, survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma might suffer from a higher risk of infections because of their spleens removal (Warren, Melrose, Brooker, & Burney, 2016). Moreover, in some complicated cases, patients might lose their limbs, their parts, lymph nodes, etc. For this reason, the appearance of phantom limb pain, lymphedema, problems with the reproductive system, etc. might occur in patients suffering from different types of cancer (Warren et al., 2016). The severity of these problems varies and depends on the stage and unique characteristics of a person. However, cancer becomes a difficult challenge for all patients who suffer from it. For this reason, it is critical to chose among the least dangerous approaches to treatment and cooperate with a patient to ensure that his/her state will remain satisfactory.

Finally, cancer might cause the development of numerous psychological problems. At the moment, people have a belief that the disease remains incurable. For this reason, it is associated with death or serious alterations in the mode of life. In accordance with the latest statistics, 70% of patients diagnosed with cancer demonstrate the first signs of clinical depression because of the fear of death and pain (Warren et al., 2016). Additionally, the current approach to treatment includes painful chemotherapy or radiotherapy which alters the image of a patient and impacts his/her health significantly. For this reason, the appearance and development of psychological problems are often associated with cancer. In such a way it is vital to monitor the patients behavior, his/her actions regarding the diagnosis, and his/her plans. It might help to avoid the emergence of more significant psychological problems in future.

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Side Effects of Treatment

Nevertheless, as it has already been stated, the current approach to treatment includes severe side effects that become challenging for a patient. These might occur when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs which is inevitable when trying to decrease the size of a tumor or avoid its growth (Warren et al., 2016). Radiation used during radiotherapy or specific substances might precondition the appearance of skin and hair problems, appetite loss, anemia, bleeding, delirium, diarrhea, alopecia, edema, fatigue, vomiting, problems with fertility, etc. (Warren et al., 2016) The severity of these issues depends on the peculiarities of the patients health and his/her response to different kinds of treatment.

Methods to Lessen Effects

In such a way, the diversity of side effects evidences the necessity to introduce some measures to lessen physical and psychological effects and improve the quality of patients lives. The majority of current investigations devoted to the issue demonstrate that a positive attitude before treatment could help to reduce negative effects and overcome all difficulties that might appear when struggling with cancer (Schmidt, 2014). Psychologists also admit a significant positive impact an appropriate mood might have on results and reduction of psychological side effects (Schmidt, 2014). As for physical ones, it is central to communicate with an oncologist to minimize their impact on a patient.


Altogether, cancer is one of the most significant problems of the modern society. The healthcare system introduces a set of specific measures to diagnose the disease at its early stages and ensure that the patient will recover. Moreover, there are five stages introduce to describe the state of a patient and provide an appropriate approach to providing care. Finally, there are numerous complications, and side effects that might appear during treatment and that should be given attention to guarantee improved outcomes.


Harvey, H., & DeSouza, M. (2016). The role of imaging in the diagnosis of primary prostate cancer. Journal of Clinical Urology, 9(2), 11-17. Web.

Schmidt, B. (2014). The neurobiology of cancer pain. The Neuroscientist, 20(5), 546-562. Web.

Siegel, R., Miller, K., & Jemal, A. (2017). Cancer statistics, 2017. Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 67(1), 7-30. doi:10.3322/caac.21387.

Stages of cancer. (2015). Web.

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

Warren, N., Melrose, D., Brooker, J., & Burney, S. (2016). Psychosocial distress in women diagnosed with gynecological cancer. Journal of Health Psychology. Web.

Worldwide cancer statistics. (n.d.). Web.

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