Approach to Care of Cancer
Grand Canyon University
Introduction According to the American Cancer Society, half of all men and one third of all women will develop cancer within their lifetime (Cancer.org). These figures are staggering. Cancer is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and is a terrifying and unpredictable disease for many cancer sufferers. As such, it is imperative that healthcare workers have a thorough understanding of the various cancer diagnoses, treatments, and preventative strategies necessary to combat this devastating plague. Skills at managing not only the illness itself, but also the psychological and social side effects that accompany treatment must also be at the forefront of effective care strategies. Diagnosing Cancer Because the term “cancer” encompasses a broad range of diseases, diagnosing this disease will vary according to the affected tissues or regions from which it originates. According to Webster’s, the definition of cancer is “a malignant tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally by invasion and systemically by metastasis.” It is this unlimited growth and the subsequent invasion of healthy tissue that makes cancers so deadly and aggressive treatment so vital. A suspected diagnosis of cancer generally begins with an examination of the presenting signs and symptoms. These symptoms will vary according to the type, location and extent of the cancer itself. Local symptoms of cancer are usually restricted to the primary site of the cancer. These symptoms may include new lumps or nodules, swelling, bruising or bleeding in or around the diseased tissue. Metastatic symptoms may include enlarged lymph nodes, organomegaly (commonly seen in the liver and spleen) and bone pain and/or fractures. Systemic symptoms include weight loss, fatigue, sweating and anemia. While none of these symptoms is diagnostic, they are helpful in
References: http://www.cancer.org. Accessed on January 16, 2010. http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/294/10/1296.full.pdf. Accessed January 16, 2010. McCance, K., et al.: Pathophysiology: The Biologic Basis for Disease in Adults and Children, Philadelphia, 2010.