Cancer and Approaches to Care in Nursing

Topic: Oncology
Words: 1494 Pages: 5

Cancer Diagnosis and Staging

Cancer is an illness in which somebody’s cells grow abnormally and uncontrollably, causing a wide range of symptoms. Cancer diagnosis tests are fundamental in knowing the type and stage of the disease. Doctors can order various diagnostic tests, including lab tests, imaging tests, and biopsies, to confirm or rule out that the patients have cancer if symptoms and screening assessment suggest the possible existence of the disease. Lab tests focus on evaluating the level of tumor markers in the blood, tissues, and other body fluids.

Imaging tests generate the body’s pictures that help doctors determine whether tumors are present. The different ways used to create the images include CT scan, MRI, nuclear scan, bone scan, X-ray, ultrasound, and PET scan (Mayo Clinic, 2021).

A biopsy involves doctors removing a sample tissue from the body using a needle, endoscopy, or surgical procedure. The part of the body suspected to have cancer determines the biopsy method that doctors use. The diagnostic tests help the health providers in staging cancer.

The TNM and number system are the main methods used by oncologists in cancer staging. T, N, and M refer to the primary tumor, the number of close lymph nodes affected by cancer, and metastasized, correspondingly (Haro et al., 2019). Letter X and numbers 0, 1, and 2 follow T, N, and M; for example, T2N0MX. The TX, NX, and MX mean that the primary tumor, nearby lymph nodes, and metastasis cannot be measured. When 0 appears after the letters TNM, it shows the absence of the primary tumor (T0), no cancer in close lymph nodes (N0), and the illness has not spread to other body parts (M0). T1…, N1…, and M1is primary tumor size, number of lymph nodes affected by cancer, and the disease has spread to other body parts.

The number staging system for cancer comprises stage 0, stage I, stage II, stage III, and stage IV. While stage 0 indicates the presence of abnormal cells (not cancerous) that have spread to nearby tissue, stage I, stage II, and stage III denote the presence of cancer (The American Cancer Society, n.d.). Notably, a higher number shows that the cancer tumor is larger and has spread into adjacent tissues. Stage IV means that the illness has spread to distant body parts.

Complications, Treatment’s Side Effects, and Methods to Alleviate Physical and Psychological Impacts of Cancer

Cancer can cause various complications, such as weight loss, nervous system and brain problems, and unusual immune system reactions. Individuals with cancer can excessively lose weight because the cancerous cells steal food from normal ones, depriving them of nutrients (Mayo Clinic, 2021). The cancerous tumor can exert pressure on adjacent nerves, causing pain and possible loss of functionality of some body parts. Equally, brain cancer can lead to severe headaches and weakness in one side of the patient’s body. The presence of cancer can trigger the immune system to attack healthy cells, causing paraneoplastic syndromes characterized by seizures.

Some of the cancer treatment’s side effects are fatigue, pain, nausea, and vomiting. Cancer patients feel extremely tired, weak, and lack energy due to immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and other medical interventions (Mayo Clinic, 2021). Treatments such as radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy make cancer patients experience considerable pain. Nausea and vomiting occur because the cancer treatments are potentially harmful to healthy cells in the digestive tract.

Patients can use different approaches to lessen the physical and psychological effects caused by cancer and its treatments. For instance, patients take medications to manage cancer-related pain and depression. The patients can take pain medicines as prescribed by their doctors without skipping or waiting for the pain to worsen. Anti-depressants can considerably help patients reduce depression symptoms caused by cancer. Patients can also prevent a high rate of hair loss by avoiding electric curling irons or rollers and hair driers.

Factors Contributing to the Yearly Incidence and Mortality Rates of Various Cancers in Americans

Cancer is among the leading causes of death in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2020), approximately 1.6 million and 600000 new cases and deaths, respectively, are recorded annually due to cancer. Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, overweight and obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, infectious diseases, and exposure to the sun contribute to various cancers’ yearly incidence and mortality rates.

Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke increase the risks of contracting various types of cancers. The CDC (2020) indicates that this factor causes lung, mouth and throat, liver, kidney, larynx, esophagus, cervix, colon, urinary bladder, stomach, and other kinds of cancer. About 90 % of lung cancer deaths in the US are associated with smoking and secondhand smoke. Overweight and obesity contribute to more than thirteen types of cancer, 40 % of cancers detected (CDC, 2020). Unhealthy foods and lack of physical activities contribute to overweight and obesity.

Excessive consumption of alcohol increases the risks for different types of cancer. According to the CDC (2020), the percentage of adult Americans who are binge and heavy drinkers is 17 % and 6 %, respectively. The behavior contributes to incidences of breast, rectum, mouth, esophagus, larynx, liver, and colon cancers. Exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun contributes to melanoma, a skin cancer that causes most fatalities. Infectious diseases such as human papillomavirus (HPV) are risk factors for cervical, vulva, penis, oropharynx, and vagina cancers.

The Way American Cancer Society (ACS) Can Provide Education and Support

The ACS can provide education and support to the community in different ways to prevent and minimize annual incidences of cancer and cancer-related deaths. The organization should use social platforms such as Facebook and mainstream media to educate the public about approaches to prevent cancer and help detect illness early when it is treatable. ACS should design education programs and live a healthier lifestyle and cancer screening and publish them on these media. For example, education on how to remain active and the benefits of eating healthy foods and quitting smoking can reduce the rate of cancer in the US.

The organization can also provide support to the public through cancer information services, publications, and day-to-day help to people with cancer. ACS can provide accurate and up-to-date information about cancer on their website. The information includes types of cancers, treatment options, prevention, coping strategies, screening, and others. ACS can also help patients and their families locate vital resources such as financial programs and support groups for people living with cancer. The day-to-day support and help ACS can offer a ride to treatment and mastectomy and hair loss products. Other recommendable ACS services are lodging, an online community program, and free cancer screening. These services can help those seeking treatment far away from home, allow cancer patients and survivors to share experiences and practical tips, and motivate most people to undergo cancer screening.

Nursing Process

The nursing process plays a significant role in providing safe and effective care for individuals with cancer. The process involves five sequential phases that guide nurses to patient-centered care, including assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation (Toney-Butler & Thayer, 2021). Assessment involves nurses and other healthcare providers using their critical thinking skills and collecting data about patients. They collect subjective data by listening to the patient’s statements, such as information about their health history. Healthcare providers acquire patients’ objective data by evaluating their vital signs and others, such as weight, that can help in determining appropriate diagnostic tests for cancer.

The diagnosis phase involves doing various tests that are helpful in clinical judgment about whether a patient has cancer. Additionally, diagnosis allows healthcare providers to know the stages of cancer if a patient has one. As a result, nurses and other healthcare professionals design appropriate interventions for managing or preventing cancer from meeting the patients’ physiological and safety needs (Toney-Butler & Thayer, 2021). Nurses formulate goals and outcomes that can directly impact patient care in the planning stage. Possible goals and outcomes are managing pain and other symptoms and preventing the tumor’s advancing, spreading the disease to other parts of the body, and complications. Nurses implement care plans in the fourth stage by administering appropriate medications and treatments, educating cancer patients and their families on managing the interventions’ side effects, and changing their lifestyles to prevent the recurrence of the disease. The last stage is about reassessing patients’ conditions and making adjustments to ensure the desired goals have been achieved.

Liberal Arts and Science Education for Nurses

Liberal arts and science studies play a significant role in equipping nurses with knowledge and skills to provide holistic, effective care to patients. Mathematics, physical and social sciences, and science studies help the nurses assess, diagnose, plan, and implement care for cancer patients (Kooken & Kerr, 2018). Conversely, liberal arts ensure that nurses have adequate and enhanced skills necessary to communicate with patients and other care providers, navigate diversity, and make decisions about diagnostic tests, care plans, and interventions. Therefore, liberal arts and science education in colleges produce all-aroun


The American Cancer Society (n.d.). Cancer staging. Web.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Cancer. Web.

Haro, G., Sheu, B., Cook, N., Woodard, G., Mann, M., & Kratz, J. (2019). Comparison of conventional TNM and novel TNMB staging systems for non–small cell lung cancer. JAMA Network Open, 2(12), 1-8. Web.

Kooken, W., & Kerr, N. (2018). Blending the liberal arts and nursing: Creating a portrait for the 21st century. Journal of Professional Nursing, 34(1), 60-64. Web.

Mayo Clinic. (2021). Cancer. Web.

Toney-Butler, T., & Thayer, J. (2021). Nursing process. Web.

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