Cancer is an unexpected, life changing event and as expected, people differ in how they handle such a diagnosis.
Living beyond the diagnosis should bring hope with the growing advancements in modern medicine which has continuously improved the quality of life for patients with cancer.
Survival rates have improved over the past few decades.
Cancer treatments can be quite daunting and the inevitable side effects have left some patients with the belief that treatment options are more unforgiving than they actually are. However, once one climbs the ladder, one realizes that chemotherapy is one of the most effective ways to treat many different types of cancers.
Surviving cancer is not the end of a gruesome story, but the beginning of a beautiful one. The varied needs of patients demand a scope of actions from clinicians in order to provide them with a life worth living.
Traditionally, early detection, therapeutic success, comprehensive follow- up care and monitoring for recurrence of primary cancers have all increased the number of cancer survivors exponentially over the past forty years.
Among the male survivors, the most common diagnosis is prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and genitourinary cancers. While breast, gynecologic and colorectal cancers are most common among female survivors.
Many survivors of cancer report complications as a consequence of cancer and its treatment. Some of the side effects appear during the active phase of treatment or many years after diagnosis of their primary cancer. These can be effectively managed by the specialist.
Over the last few decades, focus on cancer follow-up and management of the common and late side-effects has begun to recognize the therapeutic success of cancer treatment and the increased rate of cancer survival. Many treatment modelshave been put forward to achieve this goal. The most important is the comprehensive care summary and follow-up plan that is clearly and effectively explained.
As appropriate, health care providers use systematically developed evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, assessment tools and instruments to identify and manage most of the side effects of cancer. Recommendations for healthy behaviors are usually shared with first degree relatives to minimize their potential risk of cancer.
Similarly, information on genetic counselling and testing to identify high-risk individuals who could benefit from more comprehensive care surveillance are, today, readily available. Effective chemoprevention strategies for secondary prevention have also reduced the incidence of disease recurrence.
To put it clearly and transparently, modern health care providers use efficient tools and appropriate education to provide quality care for people living with cancer. Interventions focus on preventing recurrence, improving communication, raising awareness of physical and psychological effect of cancer and its treatment and above all, optimizing resources and enhancing knowledge of the late side effects and the best ways to manage them.
Dr. A. Sule