Write a paper (1,250-1,750 words) describing the approach to care of cancer. In addition,
include the following in your paper:
- Describe the diagnosis and staging of cancer.
- Describe at least three complications of cancer, the side effects of treatment, and
methods to lessen physical and psychological effects.
- Prepare this assignment according to the APA guidelines format.
Approach to Care of Cancer
There is immense evidence that teams have been extremely effective compared to
individuals who are working in isolation in cancer care. This is particularly in situations where
activities need experiences, judgments, and multiple skills. As far as cancer care is concerned,
studies show that survival rates are better if multidisciplinary teams care for patients. However, it
is worth noting that every patient has special and unique needs, and these differ if compared to
other patients. Patients who are involved in the decision-making processes regarding their
treatment tend to do much better (Ko & Chaudhry, 2002). Moreover, patients should be treated
as total humans where their social, emotional, and physical needs should be identified and
addressed. This helps in managing the conditions successfully.
According to the integrated care approach, cancer care is complicated and normally
requires multiple specialists’ involvement. Patients who choose care centers offering a
multidisciplinary care have a chance to acquire a convenient and uniquely effective approach.
The specialists involved in the care of a patient work together compared to when a patient sees
each individually and considers recommendations separately (Fallowfield & Jenkins, 2009).
This ensures that more treatment options are available, the emotional, social, and physical needs
APPROACH TO CARE OF CANCER 2
are met, and the patient makes informed decisions. Inclusive care involves treating patients as
equal partners during decision making. In whole-patient, individualized care, treatment standards
are based on patients’ particulars including emotional preferences or issues, general physical
condition, and age. Regardless of the treatment approach used, patient advocacy,
communication, and respect should be considered.
Diagnosis is dependent on the cancer type. Physical exams involve gathering information
regarding the cancer. Examination is by listening, feeling, and looking for anything unusual. This
reveals the size and location of tumors as well as spread to other body parts and the lymph nodes.
Imaging studies produce the inner body part pictures. The studies help in determining the stage.
they include PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
scans, CT (Computed Tomography) scans, and x-rays that indicate the tumor size, cancer
location, and if the cancer has already spread. There can be tissues, urine, blood, and other fluids
laboratory tests (Fallowfield & Jenkins, 2009). For instance, tests for tumor markers and liver
function. Pathology reports include information about tumor size, tumor growth in other organs
and tissues, cancer cells’ type, and tumor grade (Carelle et al., 2002). This is achieved through a
biopsy. Cytology reports describe findings from body fluid cells’ examination. Surgical reports
are also important in describing the appearance and size of the tumor.
Staging refers to a method of describing the location of a cancer, the places it has spread
to, and if it is interfering with other organs’ functions, diagnostic tests are used to determine the
stage and thereby, staging is never complete until tests are done (Ko & Chaudhry, 2002). The
stage is determined by growth and size of the tumor, if the lymph nodes are affected, and if other
APPROACH TO CARE OF CANCER 3
body parts are affected. Knowing the stage is important in that a doctor is able to plan treatment,
predict recurrence risk, predict prognosis, discuss diagnosis with other healthcare team members,
determine the effectiveness of treatment, and make comparisons to evaluate more effective and
Mostly, doctors use the TMN tool from the AJCC (American Joint Committee on
Cancer) to describe a cancer’s stage. This system examines the Tumor, T plus 0-4 (location and
size of the tumor), Node, N plus 0-3 (if cancer cells have affected the lymph nodes based near
the tumor), and Metastasis, M (M0 or M1) (if the cancer has spread to other body parts). These
results are then combined to determine the cancer’s stage for every person. There is a unique
TMN system for every form of cancer (Carelle et al., 2002).
A majority of the cancers have 4 stages (1-4). Some have a 0 stage. Stage 0 elaborates
cancer in situ (‘in place’). These cancers are located at the place they began and have not invaded
the close cells. Such cancer is highly curable by removing the whole tumor through surgery. In
stage 1, the small cancer has not grown into nearby tissues deeply and neither has it spread to
other body parts or lymph nodes. This is the early-stage cancer. Stage 2 and 3 indicates cancers
that are bigger in size, have grown into nearby tissues deeply, and spread to the lymph nodes.
However, other body parts are not affected (Parkes, 2012). In stage 4, the cancer has affected
other body parts. This is the metastatic or advanced cancer. Other staging systems include blood
cancers, childhood cancers, and brain cancers/ CNS (Central Nervous System) tumors.
Three complications of cancer
Depending on the tumor stage and patient’s health, the complications of cancer can be
inconvenient, life-changing, painful, and fatal. Therefore, a majority of the alternative remedies
and adjuvant therapies focus on minimizing the complications as well as the emotional and
APPROACH TO CARE OF CANCER 4
physical distress that result. Treating the complications improves the quality of life and survival
Metastasis is acknowledged as one of the critical complications of cancer. This refers to a
situation where cancerous cells spread through the lymphatic system or blood from one location
of the body to another (Parkes, 2012). The American Cancer Society has made it clear that
metastasis is attributable to many of the cancer-related deaths. This is predominantly as a result
of vital organs including the lungs, liver, bones, and brain being affected. In addition, some
cancers have a tendency of spreading to particular body areas more often compared to others. For
example, the pelvic bone is mostly affected by prostate cancer while breast cancer spreads to the
brain, lungs, and liver. Regardless of the fact that isolated tumors can be removed by use of
surgery, metastatic cancer’s treatment is more difficult and efficiently minimizes the chance of
Second, patients experience emotional and mental complications. Some of the mood
disorders include major depression and anxiety. The (NCI) National Cancer Institute documents
that naturally, patients experience grief, sadness, and anxiety in reaction to cancer treatment and
diagnosis. Incase these feelings interfere with leading a productive life or undergoing treatment,
the mood disorder may require professional treatment. According to NCI, cancer patients are at
an escalated risk for suicide; 2-10 times increased rate (Parkes, 2012).
Physical complications; one of the major cancer complications is pain. When a tumor is
growing, it might spread to the surrounding tissues, or exert pressure to a nearby nerve, which
leaves a patient feeling pain. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network argues that this pain
can be categorized into three types; visceral pain that results from a damaged organ tissue;
somatic pain that affects a particular area of the skin, bone, and muscle; and neuropathic pain as
APPROACH TO CARE OF CANCER 5
a result of the central nervous system being injured (Butow et al., 1996). Patients experience
other complications including vomiting, nausea, fever, pruritus, lymphedema, malignant pleural
effusion, sexual issues (vaginal dryness and erectile dysfunction), and hypercalcemia.
The side effects of treatment
Regardless of the fact that chemotherapy and radiation might cure a patient with cancer,
they produce side effects which impact life quality significantly. Radiation therapy treats skin
cancers and internal tumors. However, it causes many unpleasant side effects on a short-term
basis including irritated skin, throat pain, and hoarseness. Radiation’s long-term side effects are
very critical. For instance, if radiation is directed to the oral cavity, the jawbone and salivary
glands may be damaged, which leaves patients with jaw pain, a permanent tendency for cavities
to develop, and chronic dry mouth. The undesirable side effects of chemotherapy include a
weakened immune system, nausea, and hair loss. Fortunately, a majority of the short-term
complications disappear after the patient is through with the treatment.
Methods to lessen physical and psychological effects
Antidepressant medications, support group therapy, and psychotherapy often helps cancer
patients that are struggling with depression or anxiety in managing their moods as well as
leading more normal lives (Parkes, 2012). Therefore, it is important for patients who are
experiencing overwhelming feelings of despair, hopelessness, worthlessness, anxiety, or sadness
to speak to the doctor about such symptoms and potent treatments.
Since patients experience pain as a physical complication, when treating it, a doctor
should enquire what kind of pain it is. After the patient pinpoints its source, a treatment course is
recommended to assist the patient in managing the pain. This includes medications such as
opioids (oxycodone, morphine, and codeine) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
APPROACH TO CARE OF CANCER 6
Butow, P. N., Kazemi, J. N., Beeney, L. J., Griffin, A. M., Dunn, S. M., & Tattersall, M. H.
(1996). When the diagnosis is cancer: patient communication experiences and
preferences. Cancer, 77(12), 2630-2637.
Carelle, N., Piotto, E., Bellanger, A., Germanaud, J., Thuillier, A., & Khayat, D. (2002).
Changing patient perceptions of the side effects of cancer chemotherapy. Cancer, 95(1),
Fallowfield, L., & Jenkins, V. (2009). Effective communication skills are the key to good cancer
care. European Journal of Cancer, 35(11), 1592-1597.
Ko, C., & Chaudhry, S. (2002). The need for a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care.
Journal of Surgical Research, 105(1), 53-57.
Parkes, C. M. (2012). Accuracy of predictions of survival in later stages of cancer. British
medical journal, 2(5804), 29.