CANCER: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

CANCER: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

Cancer has been known to be a debilitating disease since its discovery. To date, even with the advancements in the field of science and research, there haven’t been any cures formulated for it. However, human intervention has modelled several interventions, treatments and coping strategies to manage cancer. 

These interventions include both pain and non-pain strategies. From chemo caps to talk therapy, there are several ways to deal with cancer symptoms and side effects. Cancer is a primary causal disease that accounts for 30% of deaths in Australia. However, with the recent development, according to reports published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there have been less than 10,000 new cases of cancer!

Previously, around 480 cases of cancer used to be the multiplication rate in Australia. Furthermore, one in two Aussie men and women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer by the age of 85! However, there are several strategies and techniques one can opt for to alleviate the effects of the disease.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a phenomenon where specific cells start dividing rapidly due to genetic mutation and chemical changes. These cells are quick to infest and cause healthy cells to degenerate and become cancerous as well. 

Cancers can be malignant or non-malignant tumours. While the latter is usually removed by operating on the tumour, the former is very difficult to control as the tumours are not localised. The speed with which the cells divide and destroy body tissues is unpredictable. 

Breast cancer, bone cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer are some commonly diagnosed cancers in Australia.

What are the symptoms?

Cancer manifests as both physical and mental symptoms. Certain symptoms are very cancer-type specific. Some common symptoms are:

  • Weight loss without effort
  • Hair loss
  • Sores and wounds that do not heal
  • Body pain
  • Fatigue and fever 

How to support someone with cancer?

Like any other disease, cancer can be highly isolating as the affected persons might feel like they are fighting a lone battle. Social support is the foremost thing that cancer patients require to believe that they, too, can survive cancer! Since cancer affected individuals go through somatic symptoms, proper diets and physical care need to be provided regularly. 

Interventions

Interventions for treating cancer can be of two types: medical and non-medical. Medical treatments usually involve medications and some hospital-oriented procedures. Non-medical interventions are usually at-home techniques that can be practised to alleviate the effects of cancer symptoms. Here are a few popular interventions:

  • Chemotherapy:

    This method is used to reduce the multiplication speed of cancerous cells by administering drugs to the patient over the course. In chemotherapy, the medications used can sometimes destroy healthy cells as well and hence cause symptoms like hair loss. A novel intervention to reduce hair loss is chemo caps. These are caps that consist of a cooling gel that is often worn during chemo sessions to reduce hair loss. 

  • Talk Therapy:

    Since cancer is a debilitating disease, it can increase a person’s susceptibility to mental conditions like depression and anxiety. Apart from this, infected individuals might go through periods of shock and loneliness. Support groups and one-on-one therapy like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are suggested. 

  • Distraction and Imagery:

    Cancer is associated with body pain as well. Typically, cancer patients are given painkillers to alleviate such pains. During the wait-time for the medicine’s effect to kick in, a person might feel restless and overly concentrated on the pain, causing them severe distress. In such cases, distractive techniques like watching TV, listening to music or thinking of one’s favourite place can be helpful.