There are many different types of cancer, with different symptoms, different staging, and diagnosis. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US, amounting to approximately 25 % of all deaths. The effects of cancer economically and socially are significant; hence, the nursing process is needed for effective care for cancer patients. Caring for cancer patients is individualized to the type of cancer, advancement, and the patient. With cancer, cells within the body continually divide, confusing within the body where older cells typically die and are replaced with new cells. The survival of these cells is relative to the onset of cancer. The abnormal cells develop into cancer cells to break up and form new cancer cells by attaching themselves to other body areas, forming new tumors with the same cellular pattern of the original tumor.
Diagnosis and Staging
A cancer diagnosis is made through various methods as each cancer type symptoms take different forms. Physicians review the patient’s medical history, physical examination, screening tests, biopsy, blood tests, and imaging procedures. Physical examination is performed on specific types of cancer, such as breast cancer, where there may be changes in the texture and size of the breast or nipple. Screening tests are used to determine the possibility of disease before symptoms occur. Screening tests include; pap test, mammography, and colonoscopy. Biopsies compare normal cells to cancerous cells structure to determine if a tumor is cancerous. Blood tests determine which organs are being affected and diagnose leukemia or prostate cancer. Imaging procedures include; computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and X-ray.
Staging of cancer describes the extent of the disease, such as how big the tumor is and its spread to other body areas. It guides physicians in deciding treatment, prognosis, and chances of remission of the patient. Cancerous cells replicate and divide with no clear indication of stopping, ultimately forming a mass of tissue called a tumor. However, there are types of cancers that do not form solid masses, such as leukemia. The TNM system is used to determine the stage of a patient’s cancer. T stands for tumor size and the extent of the primary tumor. N stands for the number of lymph nodes that are affected by the tumor. M stands for metastasizing, which indicates the extent the cancer cells have traveled in the body (Dienstmann, Mason, Sinicrope, Phipps, Tejpar, Nesbakken, and Rosty, 2017). Stage zero is used to describe cancer in situ, meaning that abnormal cells are present, but they have not spread from that area in the body. In stage 1, often called early-stage cancer, the tumor is small and has not grown enormously into nearby tissues and lymph nodes. Stage 2 and 3 indicate the tumor is large and has grown into nearby tissues and lymph nodes but not to other body parts. Stage 4 means that cancer has spread to other parts of the body distant from the primary tumor and is terminal.
Cancer Complications and Side Effects of Medication
Cancer is a complex disease, and complications are common with cancer and cancer treatments. Cancer is lethal, and complications may lead to death if not well treated. Types of cancer complications include; electrolyte imbalance, neurological issues, and metastasis. Electrolyte imbalance leads to hyponatremia and hypovolemia problems. Hyponatremia is caused by disequilibrium between body salt and water. Hyponatremia can cause inappropriate antidiuretic hormone syndrome, where excessive water retention dilutes salt concentration in the body. Hypovolemic cancer complication emerges from the excessive loss of water from vomiting and diarrhea. Neurological complications lead to the emergence of malignant spinal cord compression (MSCC). MSCC symptoms include; limb weakness, sensory loss, and pain that increases when straining the lower extremities. Metastases lead to hypercalcemia when cancer cells attack the bones. Bone metastases dissolve the bones releasing calcium into the bloodstream; thus, the patients suffer from hypercalcemia, high calcium levels in the blood. Blood tests are required to check the level of calcium in the body. This is done to determine the extent of the progression of bone metastases.
Chemotherapy is the most common type of cancer treatment. The treatment works by targeting and eliminating dividing cancer cells. The treatment is administered intravenously in a vein, orally through pills and liquid forms or cream applied on the skin. The side effects of chemotherapy emanate from the drugs used, which cause hair loss, nausea, infertility, hair loss, and weakened immunity (Demaria, O’Leary, Chang, Shao, Liu, Almirah, and Alston, 2017). Nausea and vomiting make the patient’s appetite poor and delay the absorption of nutrients leading to weight loss. Chemotherapy doesn’t distinguish healthy hair follicle cells from cancer cells, thus attacks the health cells leading to hair loss. The most common hair loss occurs on the scalp.
Surgical treatments are used to remove cancer cells directly and are often followed up by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The side effects of surgical operations include pain, bleeding, infections, and distorted body parts. Radiation therapy is used to treat various types of cancers but has diverse effects on the patients. The adverse effects of radiation therapy are exposure to radiation’s ionizing effect that leads to the killing of human body cells. The pain is caused by the release of chemicals produced by a tumor. The types of chronic pain include; neuropathic pain and somatic pain.
Physical and psychological effects are lessened by understanding treatment effects regarding pain management and support systems. The patient is notified of timely medication plans and a log for pain in the body. The log facilities are used to document the level of pain experienced. Antiemetic drugs are also administered to the patient to reduce the effects of nausea and vomiting. Support systems such as cancer counselors and close friends provide psychological motivation for patients to adhere to treatment and proper nutrition.
Factors that contribute to cancer in the US
In 2019, there were an estimated 1.7 million new cancer cases with an estimated death toll of 606,880 patients. The increase in cancer cases is directly proportional to exposure to risk factors. The risk factors contributing to cancer cases can be divided into two categories; modifiable and nonmodifiable factors. Modifiable risk factors include; smoking tobacco products, sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet. Nonmodifiable factors include underlying health problems, ethnicity, and age (Sineshaw, Ng, Flanders, Brawley, and Jemal, 2018). Socioeconomic status and living conditions directly contribute to cancer cases in the US due to ease or limitation of healthcare accessibility. Millions of people with cancer lack access to quality medical care, and access to care are lower for African Americans and Latinos. Breast cancer mortality rate is higher in black women than white women caused by healthcare disparities and access to income.
The increase in thyroid cancer, melanoma, and lung cancer in the US has been influenced by age and increment in risk factors. Lung cancer accounts for 24% of all cancer deaths accelerated by an increase in smoking. The risk factors for thyroid cancer include obesity and alcohol consumption. Mortality and incidence rates are influenced by age and past medical status relative to oncogenic viruses such as HIV. Age is a determinant of cancer mortality rate where older persons are at increased risk than younger persons. HIV immunodeficiency and chronic inflammation affect the incidences of cancer and the survival rate after the diagnosis.
American Cancer Society Services
The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a nonprofit community based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major problem. The ACS mission statement is providing education and support in different ways across multiple states. ACS considers cancer to be a primary health issue in the US and enacts measures to eradicate the disease by promoting cancer awareness in the general public. The organization is committed to ensuring people have information regarding the cancer scourge. They provide educational services through their toll-free helpline that is open 24 hours 7 days a week. The specialists offer timely responses to patients with questions regarding the treatment and experiences of living with cancer. ACS has a patient service center whose role is to offer comprehensive information regarding the patient’s needs and community resources useful in cancer treatment.
ACS provides information that aims to stimulate cancer patients to learn more about people living with cancer and deal with it daily. ACS organizes community-based health awareness events that seek to educate people on preventive measures against cancer. It also provides figures and facts related to cancer, such as mortality rate and the emergence of new cases. ACS educates people ailing from cancer on the importance of maintaining a proper diet to fight the disease. The organization offers rides to treatment centers and lodging for cancer patients who have a challenge commuting from home to hospital (Cohen, LaMonte, Erb, Beckman, Sadeghi, Hutcheson, & and Lyman, 2016). Cancer can place a financial burden on patients, thus rely on ACS for lodging programs ensuring the patient gets treatment on time. The group has also created an online community, the American Cancer Society Cancer Survivors Network, where patients can share tips based on their cancer experiences. The organization also offers support to breast cancer patients who have undergone a mastectomy in dealing with the physical limitations created by surgery. ACS offers special bras and prostheses, which can help the patients cope in daily activities. The ACS catalog also offers wigs and hats at reasonable prices for cancer patients who have experienced hair loss. Most of the information is presented through brochures and pamphlets the organization publishes to help patients, families, and health care professionals.
I would recommend the toll-free helpline since it gives more personalized information than the rest of its services. The patients are connected to a specialist who can guide them through answering their specific questions regarding cancer. ACS helpline is multilingual, with specialists covering more than 200 languages. The helpline is not limited to time margins, thus serving patients throughout the year without hitches. The patients can inquire about the side effects, pain control, and coping mechanisms associated with cancer.
Nursing Process in Cancer Treatment
The nursing process incorporates a five-step approach that physicians use to safeguard patients’ level of care. Nurses adhere to the five phases for patient-focused and holistic care. The stages include; assessment, diagnosis, planning of care, implementation, and evaluation of outcomes. Assessment entails collecting and analyzing data provided by the patient by evaluating the patient’s history of treatment and awareness regarding cancer treatments. The primary reason for the assessment is to identify the health status of the patient. The information collected also include psychological, spiritual, economic, and sociocultural data (Benedet, Gelbcke, Amante, de Souza Padilha, and de Pires, 2016). Assessment is paramount for the physician to plan the methods of treatment. Nurses should ensure information regarding family history and past medical events is recorded. Physical examination of the patient is performed to maximize the extent of finding out relevant information.
Diagnosis involves clinical identification of the patient’s problems through the responses provided by the client. The nurse uses laboratory reports, a patient’s medical history, and general health to handle the patient’s needs by designating a care plan based on the information retrieved. Diagnosis also eliminates the possibility of confusion in a patient’s expectations as it lays the foundation for treatment (Sam, 2015). The nurses initiate planning for the treatment of cancer, both short- and long-term goals. This may include pain management by providing the right medication and maintenance of proper nutrition. Planning involves recording assessment, diagnosis, and outcomes in the patient’s care plan for easy accessibility by health professionals. Implementation is supported via the care plan adopted by monitoring the patient’s condition changes and comparing it to projected outcomes. The care provided by oncology nurses is documented to ensure a seamless continuation of care during hospitalization and patient discharge. The evaluation phase compares the goals set and the patient’s health status. The possible outcomes include improving the condition, stabilizing a condition, and deterioration of the situation. Modification of the health care plan is performed when goals to improve conditions are not met.
How Liberal Arts and Science Studies Contribute to Nursing Knowledge
The foundation of nursing knowledge is based on critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and biological studies. Liberal arts studies emphasize individuality and practicality in applying learned things acting as a basis for nurses to strengthen their communication skills and interactions with patients. Sciences incorporate biological studies of the body anatomy and how it works studies, essential for nurses in their profession due to vast body functions knowledge. Mathematics is used to accurately measure the medication dosages, an important component in caring for patients. Undergraduate studies provide nurses with critical knowledge to aid in predicting outcomes and improving patient health.
With the mortality rates of cancer surging, diagnosis of the disease is devastating to the patient. However, early diagnosis and prognosis through aggressive treatment and effective nursing care can help patients cope with the painful treatment process and recover. Patients depend on psychological support and the nursing process as the basis of hope for overcoming the disease. Nurses offer holistic patient care based on patients’ individual needs in the care plan. Palliative care is the last resort when the cancer is terminal.