According to Lotz, Moses & Pories (pp. 5-33), cancer is a condition that is characterized by atypical growth of cells that tend to increase in an uncontrolled way, and in some cases, metastasize (spread to other parts of the body). There are over one hundred strains of cancer that are distinct from one another and which are capable of attacking different parts of the body. It should not be assumed that once diagnosed death will follow because if it’s detected in its early stages, then the cancerous cells can be killed or their growth controlled using effective therapeutic and treatment methods. All strains of cancers can be categorized under three main classes namely Carcinomas, leukemia or lymphomas, and Sarcomas. The Carcinomas group constitutes over 90 percent of all cancers and they are known to originate from the cells that coat the inside layer and the surface of the body (skin), as well as cells that form glands in the body. Leukemia/lymphomas constitute close to 8% of all cancers, and they normally originate from cells that form the immune system, while sarcomas affect connective tissues (bones). The most common types of cancers that are prevalent in humans include lung, colon, breast, prostate, bladder, Uterus, Lymphomas, oral cavity, and pancreatic cancer (Cooper, 1993, pp. 3-8).
Diagnosis of Cancer
During diagnosis, countless tests are normally administered and unless the patient has an illness that possesses characteristics that resemble those of cancer; sometimes detecting its presence can be tricky. The most universally utilized method is imaging technology. Under this, laboratory examinations, tumor biopsy, endoscopic examinations, surgery, and other methods such as genetic examinations are used to ascertain the presence of this disease. The most primary lab tests that are used to detect cancer are blood tests. Additionally, checks for electrolytes such as potassium and sodium that are an indicator of an unhealthy body can help to ascertain whether an individual has it. Doctors can also do a complete blood count to assess the wellbeing of the blood and urinalysis to check for the presence of cancer indicators such as the presence of protein in the blood, which can signify haematuria. Tests can also help to determine the presence of tumor markers, which are substances that are secreted by cancerous cells such as prostate-specific antigens (PSA), Prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP), and CA125. From the tests, any abnormal level of PSA and PAP may be an indication that one is a victim of prostate cancer or testicular cancer, or leukemia. On the other hand, any abnormal amounts of CA125 may be an indication that one is a victim of ovarian, uterus, cervix, colon, lungs, breast, digestive tract, or liver cancer (Hamilton & Peters, 2007, pp. 9-63).
Staging of Cancer
Staging is used to define the stage of development of cancer. When describing the stage, a TNM system is normally used for such; whereby, T represents the extent of cancer, which should range from 1-4; with 1 being the smallest possible chance and 4 the largest, while ‘N’ shows whether cancer has attacked the lymph nodes, and its degree ranges from 0 to 3; with 0 showing lack of cancer in any lymph nodes and 3 indicating advanced levels of the presence of cancer cells in the nodes. On the other hand, ‘M’ is used to show the extent to which cancer has multiplied to other parts of the body (Cooper, 1993, pp. 23-25).
Treatment and Care of Cancer Patients
After staging cancer, a doctor will pick the best remedy for dealing with it; whereby, any adopted treatment is normally dependent on the type and stage of cancer. In most cases, if it has not spread to other parts of the body, most doctors will recommend surgery. This is an effective way of eliminating the disease as long as the surgery takes place when it is in its infancy stage. When cancer is said to have metastasized, the effectiveness of this method diminishes drastically. Some of the most common types of surgeries that can be done include prostatectomy and mastectomy. The former is used for prostate cancer, whereas the latter is used for breast cancer. This method is advantageous as it helps to lessen the chances of conditions such are spinal cord compression from occurring (Jones, 2006, pp. 61-79).
Another common treatment method that is used is chemotherapy. The nature of medicine that is used here is effective in disrupting the process of cell division of all the cells in the body to facilitate repairing of the damaged DNA by normal cells. Although it is a very harsh medical process, especially for healthy tissues, it is one of the most effective methods. When using this method in hematological cancers, for instance, leukemia, autologous stem cell transplantation has to be conducted. Radiation therapy is another treatment method that is commonly used when dealing with this disease. Under this method, instead of just targeting the entire section of the affected part, it is only the affected area that is targeted by ionizing radiation, in an endeavor to destroy the affected cells. The most common methods that are used to administer ionizing radiation are brachytherapy for internal administering and external beam radiotherapy. On the other hand, some doctors may recommend other methods such as targeted therapies; whereby, agents that are particular for the deregulated proteins of cancer cells are used to destroy the cells. In addition to this, sometimes doctors may recommend immunotherapy or hormonal therapy, depending on the prevailing conditions. In the former case, methods such as intravesical BCG immunotherapy or vaccines such as Sipuleucel-T are used to make the body’s immunity induce a reaction that will oppose the action of the derived cells, whereas in the latter case, doctors aim at blocking certain hormones that are associated with a specific type of cancer. In some scenarios, doctors may administer Angiogenesis inhibitors to control the multiplication of blood cells, recommend palliative care, or do Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation (HCT) (Jones, 2006, pp.137-233).
To take care of the recovering body and alleviate chances of this condition from recurring, one should always exercise to control exhaustion, nervousness, and muscle tension, and seek some behavior therapies such as hypnotherapy to help in controlling and alleviating pain and nausea. Additionally, the sufferer must endeavor to eat a well-balanced diet, which should be rich in antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, B, and E, magnesium, and phytonutrients. On the other hand, acupuncture and acupressure remedies should be adopted by the sufferer and there is a need for one to seek social support from family and friends, and cancer support networks or groups (Jones, 2006, pp.233-257).
Complications of cancer
Mental and emotional problems are some of the primary complications that are associated with this disease. This can easily creep in both the diagnosed and those undergoing treatment; hence, leading to stress, extreme levels of grief and anxiety, and sometimes suicidal tendencies. The physical complication of cancer is numerous and hard to ignore especially when cancer starts spreading to other vital organs of the body. This is because, it can cause extreme pain, malignant pleural effusion, sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction and vaginal dryness, Hypercalcemia. Another greatest complication is metastasis; whereby, cancerous cells multiply to other vital organs; hence, putting an individual’s life at risk (Lee, Schiff, & Wen, 2012, pp. 3-34).
The side effects of cancer treatment
As Cooper (1997, p. 14) states, because all adopted treatment and therapeutic remedies normally target the multiplying cells, chances of most methods such as radiation causing cell mutation and damaging other important cells are high. In addition, most treatment remedies are very painful and can lead to extreme levels of fatigue and cause breathing complications. In some instances, chances of abnormal reactions towards body cells can result; hence, leading to destroying of even healthy cells. Further, some medicine that is recommended in chemotherapy can reduce the number of red blood cells, cause hair loss, diarrhea, and constipation, and even cause damage to very vital glands.
Methods to Lessen Physical and Psychological Effects
Religion, exercise, music, fulfillment of life’s ambitions, and palliative care are some of the ways that can help a cancer patient to feel better. Individuals suffering from this condition must always seek family help and support, join a cancer support group, eat well, adopt some recommended therapies such as behavior therapies, seek medical help, and always take medication that can help to alleviate physical pain (American Cancer Society, 2010, pp. 2-11).
In conclusion, although cancer is one of the most common killer diseases, individuals need to note that if it is detected early and proper measures are taken, it can be controlled and be dealt with. In addition, even if it is detected late, the sufferers must always know that with proper care one’s life can be prolonged, because of the numerous scientific methods and remedies that exist today.
American Cancer Society. (2010). Caring for the Patient with Cancer at Home: A Guide for Patients and Families. American Cancer Society. Web.
Cooper, G. M. (1993). The Cancer Book: A Guide to Understanding the Causes, Prevention and Treatment of Cancer. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Hamilton, W. & Peters, J. T. (2007). Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier.
Jones, E. (2006). Cancer, Its Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment. New Delhi: J. J. Offset Printers.
Lee, E. Q., Schiff, D. & Wen, P. Y. (2012). Neurologic Complications of Cancer Therapy. New York: Demos Medical Publishing.
Lotz, M. M., Moses, A. M., & Pories, S. E. (2009). Cancer. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO LLC.