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Evaluating Intrinsic and Non-Intrinsic Cancer Risk Factors


Cancer is a disease that requires attention and research due to the unfavorable outcomes for the patients. Pain education and pharmacological treatment are used to manage the pain; however, pain education has not proven to be effective yet. The paper explores the background of cancer development, risk factors, and symptoms for an adequate understanding of pain management.

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Cancer is a disease that can affect every cell of the human body and is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells that can divide and invade surrounding tissues. The main types of cancer are carcinoma, sarcoma, leukemia, lymphoma, and malignancy, where each of the types begins in different parts of the body.


The risk factors that cause cancer can be intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic factors refer to random errors in DNA replication, and non-intrinsic risk factors can be endogenous and exogenous, where endogenous include growth factors, inflammation, and genetic susceptibility. Exogenous factors are radiation, chemical influence, viruses, and an unhealthy lifestyle. (Wu, Zhu, Thompson & Hannun, 2018). Research by Wu et al. (2018) indicates that extrinsic factors are the main contributors to cancer development, and intrinsic factors contribute less than ~10–30% of lifetime risk”. (p. 5). Presented risk factors and understanding of what causes cancer is significant for treatment development and further investigation of the disease.

Clinical Presentation

Cancer can be recognized by specific changes in the body that indicate the disease. For instance, a lump or firm feeling can be present under an arm in case of breast cancer. Trouble urinating, blood in the urine, and pain when urinating can be another signal that a person should see a doctor. Other symptoms may include eating problems, such as trouble swallowing or vomiting, severe fatigue, headache, seizures, or vision changes. Skin changes may also be a sign of the disease, such as new moles, or a sore that does not heal. The other important symptom that usually manifests on the latest stages is pain, which is considered as one of the most frequently occurring symptoms among patients.


Complications are common due to chemotherapy that can cause acute toxicities, which can lead to encephalopathy from ifosfamide. (DeAngelis, 2017). The manifestation of the condition includes fatigue and confusion that can result in death. Moreover, a person is exposed to high doses of radiation during radiotherapy, which can cause radiation myelopathy, which damages white matter.


A doctor uses various tools to diagnose cancer, and the first approach includes a physical exam, which means that the doctor indicates areas in the body that can be altered or enlarged, and hence, indicate the tumor. Blood and urine tests can be taken to help the doctor to identify the disease. Also, various imaging tests such as computerized tomography, bone scan, or magnetic resonance imaging can assist in examining bones, where abnormalities can be found. A doctor may also collect a sample of the person’s tissue to test in the laboratory and to see less organized cells with varying sizes.

Conclusion with PICOT Question

Considering that pain is the most frequent symptom in cancer, it requires attention and investigation. Pain education aims to decrease patient-related barriers that occur due to inadequate pain management. The study, conducted by Oldenmenger, Geerling and Mostovaya (2018), concludes that such a program may improve patient outcomes; however, a systematic study is not sufficient enough as the improvement was seen in “less than one-third of the studies and in less than 20% of all included patients” (p.4).

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Contrastingly, the pharmacological treatment allows adequate management for 95% of long-term patients who were affected by the disease for over six months. (Gundy & Nguyen, 2017). Therefore, further investigation regarding pain management is required to conclude whether it can be considered a more effective way of pain management, as pharmacological treatment has proven to show better outcomes for the patients.


DeAngelis, L. M. (2017). Neurologic Complications of Cancer. Management of Cancer Complications. Web.

Gundy, J. T., & Nguyen, M. (2017). Cancer Pain: Pharmacological Treatment. Pain Medicine.

Oldenmenger, W. H., Geerling, J., & Mostovaya, I. (2018). A systematic review of the effectiveness of patient-based educational interventions to improve cancer-related pain. Cancer Treatment Reviews.

Wu, S., Zhu, W., Thompson, P., & Hannun, Y. A. (2018). Evaluating intrinsic and non-intrinsic cancer risk factors. PMC. Web.

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