The integrative approach to cancer treatment is the most widely used by cancer patients today as it is the most comprehensive (Nelson, 2011). It is the method used by integrative oncology, which combines complementary therapeutic approaches and conventional therapies. As a combination, the integrated approach covers natural and botanical products, nutrition, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine and mind-body therapies. It fits together the best conventional therapies with the wide range of effective complementary modes. Its approach to personalized care in cancer treatment seeks out the unique and total requirements of every patient while targeting the tumor (Nelson).
A 2008 report said that 40% of adults and 12% of children with cancer in the U.S. use complementary medicine and spend $34 for it (Nelson, 2011). It said that cancer survivors are also more likely to use complementary therapies than the general population at 43% and 65% in their life time. They do so to improve their sense of overall wellness, for greater immune function, energy, pain, psychological distress and insomnia. Cancer survivors turn to these therapies because they are not satisfied with their medical treatments, which have not helped them. Yet this is not known to their provider. A recent study revealed that 52% of cancer patients actually use some type of complementary therapy but less than half of them inform their providers about it (Nelson).
This new approach seeks to provide evidence on the effectiveness, benefits and harms of different therapeutic options for many decades now without giving it this name (Nelson, 2011). It sparks excitement about identifying the cause of disease, particularly cancer, at the molecular level and the therapies for new discoveries. Natural remedies are a great source of hope for their use as the new-generation breakthroughs (Nelson).
Diagnosing and Staging Cancer
Diagnosing cancer requires a biopsy, or the removal of a small piece of tissue from the tumor (CWA, 2012). It is by endoscopy, needle biopsy or surgical biopsy. The doctor performs a microscopic examination of the tissue to determine if it is benign or malignant. The result also says what type of cancer it is and if the tumor is aggressive or not (CWA).
Staging describes the severity of the cancer according to its extent (NCI, 2012). It helps the doctor plan the appropriate treatment, estimate the prognosis, determine the clinical trials, and provide the basis for evaluation and information for providers. It establishes the site of the primary tumor, size and number, involvement of lymph nodes, cell type and grade of the tumor and metastasis. The stages are in situ, local, regional, and distant. The higher numbers mean that the disease has spread from its original site to other organs (NCI).
Complications of Cancer
These can be painful, inconvenient, discouraging, embarrassing or even fatal. Mentally, cancer can increase the risk of mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression (Info, 2012). They also run the risk of suicide at 2-10 times more than the general population, as some studies suggest. On the physical level, the main complication is pain. When the tumor spreads far enough, it places pressure on the nerve of surrounding tissues. The pain may be visceral, somatic or neuropathic. Visceral pain may indicate damaged organ tissue. Somatic pain can mean that a specific muscle, bone or skin in a specific area has been affected. And neuropathic pain can mean injury to the central nervous system. Other physical complications are fever, nausea and vomiting, itchiness, lymphedema, malignant pleural effusion, sexual problems, and high calcium levels in the blood (Info).
Complications of Cancer Treatment
Not all cancer patients are able to adapt to the reality of their condition and develop some form of psychological disorder (Moffitt, 1999). This was the finding of the study conducted by the Psychosocial Collaborative Oncology Group on 215 randomly selected ambulatory cancer patients in three cancer centers. It found that 53% were able to adjust to the stress of the diagnosis, while 47% were not. Two-thirds of the 47% underwent adjustment disorders with depression and anxiety while one-third had major depression, delirium, anxiety disorders, personality disorders and major mental illness. Almost all these at 90% were reactions to or manifestations of the disease or treatment. The three most common types of psychiatric disorders were anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and delirium (Moffitt).
Side Effects of Cancer Treatment
Each conventional mode of cancer treatment can produce side effects (ABCT, 2010). Radical cancer surgery can result in disfigurement, loss of an organ or limb or require reconstructive surgery or extensive rehabilitation. Chemotherapy can cause bone marrow suppression and its consequences, hair loss, and damage to heart, lung and kidneys. It can also produce nausea, numbness and fatigue. Radiation therapy can injure the skin or adjacent organs (ABCT).
Physical Interventions to Cancer Treatment
These are fatigue, pain, nausea and vomiting, constipation and diarrhea, nutrition and eating problems, anemia and bleeding, fever and infection, hair loss, skin changes, and lymphedema (NIC, 2012). Most the time, these are side effects of chemotherapy. The patient is advised to be as active as possible but should rest or sleep when really tired. It is always important to treat pain and the patient should not just endure it. He or she should immediately inform the doctor about it. He may prescribe medicine or recommend massage or acupuncture. In case of nausea or vomiting, the patient should avoid certain foods or take anti-nausea medicines. In case of constipation, the patient is encouraged to be active or exercise an eat high-fiber foods regularly. If he has diarrhea, he should drink more liquids, eat only small and easily digestible foods and limit or avoid foods and drinks that can make the diarrhea worse. In case of anemia, the patient is advised to balance rest with activity, eat and drink well, save his energy and consult his doctor. When there is bleeding, he should protect himself, avoid the activity that caused the bleeding and report the condition to the doctor or nurse. When with fever, the underlying cause is determined and then comfort measures are provided. A patient with an infection should be observe strict hygiene and avoid cuts. The patient who is experiencing hair loss is encouraged to keep his or her hair clean, treat their hair gently and wear a wig or scarf. Swelling should be immediately reported to the nurse or doctor. The patient should avoid salt and salty foods. Skin changes should be promptly reported. The patient should keep his nails short and skin clean at all times (NIC).
Behavioral Interventions to Cancer Treatment
These are education, behavior therapy, cognitive behavior therapy and group support (ABCT, 2010). Education strategies are meant to make cancer patients more knowledgeable about the medical system, the disease, treatment options, their side effects, coping with death and dying, and important behavioral skills suitable to their case. These are stress management and relaxation training aimed at reducing the adverse side effects of cancer treatments. Behavior therapy mainly uses relaxation training to achieve this objective by learning how to relax certain muscle groups or biofeedback. This training has been shown to be effective in reducing stress and also helps reduce anxiety as well as increase the level of compliance to the doctor's treatment. Behavior therapy is aimed at helping the cancer patient learn to solve problems with the disease, the treatment and side effects and to increase feelings of control over the disease. It is also aimed at addressing specific problems, which result from the treatment. And it also deals with compliance problems, which affect the success of the treatment. Cognitive behavior therapy deals with the fears and misconceptions of the disease, its outcome, treatments, and the patient's ability to cope. The therapy can help him recognize his negative beliefs, which hamper his ability to…