TREATING A PATIENT WITH CANCER:
MAINTAINING PATIENT QUALITY OF LIFE
Cancer is one of the most prevalent diseases in the U.S. Case (2011) noted that the 2010 report of the American Cancer Society (ACS) indicated that more than a million an d a half new cases of cancer are diagnosed every year. Along with physical disease, cancer also brings a significant impact on the patient’s overall quality of life (QOL). This paper asserts that for optimal patient outcome, healthcare workers, particularly nurses, need to attend to the cancer patient’s overall QOL rather than simply focusing on the physical disease of cancer.
This essay will first address the issue of understanding ...view middle of the document...
Bahrami (2011) has concluded that QOL can be measured by considering specific aspects of life. In a series of semi-structured interviews with cancer patients and their nurses, physical aspects of patient quality of life include the sense of wellness, being on solid financial ground, having plenty of food and drink, being able to purchase any needed medicines or supplies, and having control over they body to maintain normal body functions (Bahrami, 2011). In terms of psychological aspects of QOL, Bahrami (2011) found that an important element is how the patient feels about their status; this may also be extremely variable, changing often throughout the day.
Spiritual aspects of patient QOL are also important. Bahrami (2011) found that patients needed to be able to discuss existential issues, as well as discuss their thoughts on life and death, their beliefs (or lack of belief) in the afterlife, and so on . Bahrami (2011) also found that patients facing a life-threatening disease such as cancer often felt a keen or even urgent interest in elements of life that are frequently ignored or taken for granted assumptions, such as that their world is a safe place, that they are independent enough to care for themselves, that they are invulnerable, or that no life-threatening health issue could happen to them (Bahrami, 2011). Even the environment of being in a hospital—being confined to a small room—can have an impact on the patient’s QOL (Bahrami, 2011).
Finally, perhaps one of the most critical aspects of QOL is to recognize that ultimately, facing a life-threatening disease can be an extremely lonely business (Bahrami, 2011). Depending on cultural issues, friends and family members may be loath to discuss issues of death and dying, leaving the patient to cope with a possibly frightening experience all alone (Bahrami, 2011). Cancer can have the effect of bringing people closer together, or it can split them apart (Bahrami, 2011).
Ultimately, patient QOL includes each of those aspects, but also such categories as happiness, satisfaction with the current life status, and, most especially, having sufficient power or control to be able to make meaningful choices about their lives or about what happens to them (Bahrami, 2011).
Factors Affecting Patient Quality of Life
As noted earlier, there are many factors that contribute to the patient’s QOL. Some of the most important factors are those that stem from psychological elements of QOL. Studies have shown that there are numerous specific factors that can strongly impact the QOL for cancer patients. This section describes a number of these factors to better understand how they affect the patient. The first of these is the issue of simple human communications. Cancer patients generally do not stay in the hospital for the duration of their illness, but instead are briefly hospitalized for treatments, then released to live at home. Beaver, Williamson, and Chalmers (2010) considered the issue of such...