Cancer treatment – Palliative care

Context- The present diversion of healthcare facilities and resources to COVID-19 has increased anxiety and confusion among people with cancer.

What are the issues with dealing in cancer in a wake of COVID-19 pandemic?

  • Treatment disruption– The uncertainty about treatment continuation due to the virus spread was stressful.
  • Halt in Cancer screening programmes– These programmes are so vital for picking up cancer early in order to save lives, have ground to a halt.
  • Transportation- With public transportation closure and authorities questioning the reason for traveling has become a complete nightmare for patients to access any type of health-care services.
  • Fear virus transmission– Patients have developed fear of the coronavirus that they are unwilling to go to hospitals.
  • This is because of low immunity, often aggravated by treatments, as well as existing co-morbidities since cancer, by and large, is a disease of older people.

What are the possible solutions of dealing cancer?

  • Early recognition- Early detection through vaccination and preliminary screening is very important. Cancer survivorship owes its rising numbers largely to advances in early detection and treatment.
  • The majority of people who come for treatment to a cancer centre in India come with advanced disease. The figure is nearly 70 per cent.
  • Awareness programmes- These programmes are required to create awareness about the dangerous effect of tobacco products and cancer causing chemicals.
  • Palliative care:
    • Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of the illness.
    • It is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with a life-threatening illness.
    • It involves prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

What is the way forward?

  • Adaption of palliative care– healthcare providers must find ways to prevent cancer, screen those at heightened risk and mitigate the adverse effects of treatment by making palliative care a part of cancer treatments from the beginning and must find mention in public health policy and be integrated into clinical care from the primary health care level upwards.
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