Living with Cancer as a Chronic Condition
Chances are you, or someone you know is living with cancer. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) the risk of developing cancer is one in three. Estimates from the International Agency for Research on Cancer predicts that cancer cases will grow worldwide from 14.1 million new cases in 2012 to 21.7 million new cases in 2030 due to the growth of an aging population. In fact, the chances of developing cancer increase with age, so the older you get the more likely you are to develop cancer.
Yet, while that fact appears dismal, it is a sign that with early detection and treatment many people who are not cured of the disease can live with cancer as a chronic condition. In fact, the ACS reports that over the past two decades the number of people living with cancer has increased.
"Chances are you will die from something else," explains South Jersey Oncologist Dr. Naim Nazha adding that with advances in treatment options, supportive care and medications those who are not cured of cancer can keep their disease in check. "If it’s not cured, it can be kept under control for many with medications that can be used over a period of time."
Nazha, who has been an oncologist for 31 years, is gratified to have long-term patients who continue to work while managing their cancer. Thanks to supportive care and medication one of his patients has lived with lymphoma for 18 years. "For many it is less of a terminal illness and has become more of a chronic condition," he says, "not much different than hypertension or diabetes."
Additionally, he explains that many patients are more accepting of a continuing treatment plan if they view their diagnosis as something to be managed if it cannot be cured. The oncologist of today can help patients adjust to living with cancer as a chronic and complex condition rather than something incurable.
Through a customized care plan and collaboration with the patient’s physician the Angelic Palliative Care Team can enhance daily living by alleviating and managing pain and other symptoms associated with the patient’s diagnosis or side effects from treatment. This specialized service is available at any stage of the illness and can be provided in conjunction with curative treatments. Even cancer survivors may require ongoing coordinated care with a focus on surveillance and managing associated health issues.
"Our goal is to provide people with the best quality of life throughout their treatment and disease process, as well as support them in their recovery," explained Sheila Lill, MSN, APN, ACHPN, director of palliative care services at Angelic Health.
Symptoms associated with cancer treatment that can be managed by the Palliative Care Team of expert clinical professionals include: nausea and vomiting, pain, shortness of breath, swelling, anxiety and depression, fatigue, constipation and diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss and difficulty sleeping.
To learn if palliative care is a healthcare option for you or a loved one call 609-822-7979, or click here