The nursing process aims to help nurses to focus on the role of nursing in healthcare and its applications to provide patients a systematic, controlled, purposeful, and effective care. The major aim of the nursing process in its practice is to enhance life expectancy and compliance. By this means, nurses are facilitated through the nursing process to focus on the holistic care of the cancer patients they are taking care of to improve the quality of new life patients adopt after receiving adequate care. (Butler and Thayer, 2020) This benchmark assessment describes the nursing process as an effective approach to holistic care for the diagnosis, treatment, dealing with complications, and post-treatment side effects for cancer patients across the life span.
Diagnosis and Staging of Cancer
To begin with, abnormal cells in the body divide uncontrollably while stopping the normal control mechanism of the body resulting in cancer. Old abnormal cells do not die rather they go out of control doubling the number of abnormal cells in the body while destroying healthy tissues in the body which produces a mass of extra cells colloquially called a tumor in the arena of medical science. Clinical examination during the first stage of cancer development detects deformations in any region of the body that is different from other normal ones in the body tissues. Inspection during the clinical examination detects the form of tumor formations in preputial mucosa, pharyngeal, laryngeal, oral, and vaginal cavities likewise deep palpation in the examination process identifies the consistency of accessible abdominal organs such as liver, spleen, stomach, small and large intestine, and kidney with distinctive complications induced by the cancer tumor. (Emmerick, Singh, et al, 2021) Following are the common suspicions of tumors in the body that may lead to diagnosis state are weight loss, fever, fluids in the cavities, anorexia, behavioral disorders, urogenital disorders, hemorrhagic state, etc.
Based on these general symptoms, the cancer diagnosis process includes three major stages; location of the tumor, evaluation of tumor extension, and determination of the historical nature of the tumor. The location process requires clinical investigations where the shape of certain structures is observed through the processes of inspection and deep palpation. The evaluation process assists the practitioner to establish the treatment and evaluate therapeutic results. Furthermore, histological examination is conducted to determine the historical nature of the tumor concerning the size of the tumor and the infiltration of the adjacent tissues. (Emmerick, Singh, et al, 2021)
Staging of Cancer
When a cancer tumor is diagnosed, doctors and healthcare providers conduct tests and examinations to determine the stage of cancer so that the best treatment can be provided to the affected person. The clinical testing helps determine whether the tumor has affected the nearby tissues of the body or not, this is called staging. While this process is being done, a medical provider must put his/her related information into practice that each type of cancer tumor by organ has its own complex staging mechanism. Following is the curated list of cancer stages:
- Stage 0
This stage is considered pre-cancer as abnormal cells do not deeply invade the nearby tissues rather they are found in the first layer of body cells.
- Stage I
The abnormal cells detected in the previous stage are still in the place where they were found first covering the small area. Therefore, it is considered a curable stage.
- Stage II
The cancer tumor may grow in size in the organ or tissues where it started.
- Stage III
Cancer may be a bit larger than it was in stage II and it is possible that cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, tissues, or organs.
- Stage IV
In stage IV, cancer spread is metastasized now and may spread to other organs of the body. (Emmerick, Singh, et al, 2021)
Complications of Cancer, Side Effects of Treatment, and Methods to Lessen Physical and Psychological Effects
Complications of Cancer
If a physician treats cancer tumors more aggressively, a patient may experience complications including poisoning by hormones and systemic hematological agents, poisoning due to antiestrogen and immunosuppressive drugs, and adverse effects of immunosuppressive drugs that may affect the neurological condition of the patient. Three of the complications of cancer a patient may witness are as follows:
Anemia is caused due to antineoplastic chemotherapy and radiation during or after the cancer treatment. During cytotoxic chemotherapy as a cancer treatment, the bone marrow of the patient could be severely affected which causes anemia. (Kroschinsky, Bonin, and et al, 2017)
- Abnormal Reaction of the Patient due to Radiotherapy
The radiological procedure often ends up in abnormal behavior of the patient as the radiation beam when enters or leaves the body disturbs the neuron activity in the brain and spinal cord. A patient may fumble with bedclothes, constantly shakes his/her legs, or crawls around the room with his/her eyes open (Kroschinsky, Bonin, and et al, 2017).
- Oral Ulcerative
Due to aggressive malignant treatment, a patient may suffer from oral ulcerative because the mucosal lining of oral mucosa and gastrointestinal tract is highly susceptible to toxicity during the treatment. In such a state, oral mucosa develops ulcers and directly or indirectly affects the soft tissue structures of the gastrointestinal tract leading to oral complications (Kroschinsky, Bonin, and et al, 2017).
Side Effects of Treatment
Side effects of the cancer treatment may include difficulty in breathing, fatigue, weight loss, constipation or diarrhea, hair loss, and an unusual immune system attacking healthy cells of the body. Other potential side effects may include pain, short-term memory loss, swelling, nervous system problems, chemical imbalances such as confusion, excessive thirst, frequent urination, etc (Kroschinsky, Bonin, et al, 2017).
Methods to Lessen Physical and Psychological Effects
Once a person is diagnosed with cancer, he/she is most likely the victim of adverse physical as well as psychological effects such as distress as everybody is afraid to hear the negative perspectives cancer brings with itself. However, these adverse effects can be lessened by adopting certain approaches to life such as reinforcing the emotional relationship bond with friends, family, or close ones and delving into healthy activities with whom they feel contented so that they can psychologically feel better (Kroschinsky, Bonin, and et al, 2017). This strategy to look into life with a new perspective would also affect cancer patients from the positive side as remaining active through healthy activities in daily life is the best alternative to cope with physical problems.
Factors Contributing to Incident and Mortality Rates of Various Cancers in Americans
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the incidence and mortality rate of various types of cancers in Americans is so high because of the exposure to the environmental toxins that develop cancer. The factors include consumption of much alcohol and tobacco products, lack of physical activity, genetics, and radiation. American Cancer Society in 2017 also stated one of the major factors why mortality rates of cancer are so high in the United States due to the obesity epidemic caused by sedentary lifestyle and inactiveness that increase the risk of mortality rates and cancer incidents. (American Cancer Society, 2021)
American Cancer Society (ACS)
American Cancer Society provides support and education through life-saving research based on the nursing process by linking cancer patients with a bunch of services to help them better understand diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and find the best possible cure for cancer treatment. The Society provides detailed education on tumor treatments, information regarding where to access healthcare, and briefs about side effects and complications of the therapy. ACS also offers services to family members, friends, and caregivers about how to help cope with a patient with a cancer diagnosis. (American Cancer Society, 2021)
I recommend ACS TLC service which is a Mastectomy and hair loss service, especially for women who have suffered appearance-related issues and hair loss due to chemotherapy which can make a cancer survivor reclusive. To overcome such adverse effects, the TLC service offered by the ACS also makes it possible for cancer survivors to boost their self-confidence by purchasing mastectomy bras, wigs, turbans, etc. at an affordable cost to tackle their appearance-related side effects.
Utilization of Nursing Process across the Life Span
The utilization of the nursing process in the field of healthcare to detect a cancer tumor includes assessment of the disease, diagnosis of the tumor, planning of the treatment, implementation of the treatment procedures, and evaluation of the outcomes after the treatment. There is not a single dime of doubt that the nursing process in cancer diagnosis and treatment is the complex world of a cancer patient’s holistic care. Utilizing the nursing process across the life span, assessment involving critical thinking skills of the healthcare providers is the foremost step for the early detection of cancer tumors. Assessment of the disease not only increases the possibility of successful treatment procedures but also aids healthcare professionals in making prompt decisions about the treatment. It is vital for the nurses during the assessment of the cancerous cells in a patient that they have assessed the patient’s psychological impacts prior to cancer diagnosis. After the assessment, the diagnosis process comes into play that involves clinical judgments to implement the patient’s care plan. It includes a physical exam, imaging tests, laboratory testing, and the last biopsy if a physician has suspicions about a person being diagnosed with cancer. Planning is the third step of the nursing process where outcomes of the cancer treatment are formulated and a physician then goes with other options such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapical procedures. The fourth step is the implementation of the treatment procedures which carries out through the interventions. Last but not the least, a patient should be psychologically prepared for the side effects and complications cancer treatment poses and should be counseled afore treatment about what methods and activities he/she can adopt to manage post-cancer problems. (Butler and Thayer, 2020)
Contribution of Liberal Arts and Science Studies to Nursing Knowledge
Undergraduate studies in Science Studies and Liberal Arts prepare the nurses for how being educated can help them contribute to the arena of healthcare by building and developing the foundation of nursing knowledge. Such education provides evidence-based practices in the nursing process such as techniques and skills to research nursing data and the implementation of the treatment procedures that should be put into medical practice. Nurses can continue receiving quality education regarding healthcare and can get pieces of training to acquire quality care strategies for patients with adequate standards of medical practice. (Raso, Garrino, and et al) Nurses after completing their undergraduate education in Liberal Arts and Science Studies can assist healthcare professionals as a prospective team to create innovations in healthcare. In my opinion, working in teams with accredited professionals will help nurses develop self-confidence that will improve their safety while minimizing the risk of errors while doing surgeries and therapies. Nurses who get pieces of training with professionals as well as higher field education can also become qualified educators and better researchers to spread knowledge about the nursing process. (Raso, Garrino, and et al)
In conclusion, the nursing process in terms of holistic care of patients being diagnosed with any type of cancer is expected to yield positive outcomes in the adaptation of quality healthcare for cancer patients who are trying to cope with the complications and cancer itself. For that reason, nurses develop a biopsychosocial approach to tend to cancer patients with holistic care. Therefore, it is essential that the nursing process and its implementation into the medical practice in healthcare should be encouraged and enhanced.
Toney-Butler, T. J., & Thayer, J. M. (2020). Nursing Process. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.
Raso, A., Ligozzi, L., Garrino, L., & Dimonte, V. (2019, July). Nursing profession and nurses’ contribution to nursing education as seen through students’ eyes: A qualitative study. In Nursing forum (Vol. 54, No. 3, pp. 414-424).
American Cancer Society. (2021). Cancer Facts & Figures 2020 | American Cancer Society. Www.cancer.org. https://www.cancer.org/research/cancer-facts-statistics/all-cancer-facts-figures/cancer-facts-figures-2021.html
Kroschinsky, F., Stölzel, F., von Bonin, S., Beutel, G., Kochanek, M., Kiehl, M., & Schellongowski, P. (2017). New drugs, new toxicities: severe side effects of modern targeted and immunotherapy of cancer and their management. Critical Care, 21(1), 1-11.
Emmerick, I. C. M., Singh, A., Powers, M., Lou, F., Lin, P., Maxfield, M., & Uy, K. (2021). Factors associated with the diagnosis of stages I and II lung cancer: a multivariate analysis. Revista de Saúde Pública, 55.