Cancer known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a broad group of various diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth.
In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the body through the lymphatic system or bloodstream. Not all tumors are cancerous. Benign tumors do not grow uncontrollably, do not invade neighboring tissues, and do not spread throughout the body.
Determining what causes cancer is complex. Many things are known to increase the risk of cancer, including tobacco use, certain infections, radiation, lack of physical activity, poor diet and obesity, and environmental pollutants. These can directly damage genes or combine with existing genetic faults within cells to cause the disease. Approximately five to ten percent of cancers are entirely hereditary.
Cancer can be detected in a number of ways, including the presence of certain signs and symptoms, screening tests, or medical imaging. Once a possible cancer is detected it is diagnosed by microscopic examination of a tissue sample. Cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. The chances of surviving the disease vary greatly by the type and location of the cancer and the extent of disease at the start of treatment. While cancer can affect people of all ages, and a few types of cancer are more common in children, the risk of developing cancer generally increases with age.
Palliative care is an approach to symptom management that aims to reduce the physical, emotional, spiritual, and psycho-social distress experienced by people with cancer. Unlike treatment that is aimed at directly killing cancer cells, the primary goal of palliative care is to make the person feel better.
Palliative care is often confused with hospice and therefore only involved when people approach end of life. Like hospice care, palliative care attempts to help the person cope with the immediate needs and to increase the person’s comfort. Unlike hospice care, palliative care does not require people to stop treatment aimed at prolonging their lives or curing the cancer.
Early palliative care is recommended for people whose cancer has produced distressing symptoms (pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea) or who need help coping with their illness. The AD Care Group facilitates the process, also involving the family where it is imperative that they are also advised as to the knock- on psychological effects and physical demands that cancer causes not only to the patient, but also the family and carers.