Author Archives: OncoStem
Don’t ignore them
Personal support from friends and family members is necessary for cancer survivors. Therefore, visitors to the home of a cancer patient could bring flowers to cheer up the mood of a patient. Casual conversations, social discussions about friends, movies, organizing visits to the theater, arranging for new social events, etc. can help drive a conversation with patients. Regular visits to a patient also help them regain their confidence and reintegrate themselves back into society.
Visitors must be good listeners
Every visitor must make a conscious effort to re-establish connections with a patient. This can take the form of listening to the words and narratives from a patient, lending helping hand in house chores, add words of comfort or encouragement to a conversation, promise to organize a trip with friends, watching television shows together, and so on. However, listening must be an active pursuit because this act directly engages with a patient and allows him or her to vent their fears, joys, and hopes for the future.
Don’t be intrusive or judgmental
Words and acts that signal care and comfort should flow freely in conversations with patients in any setting. Right words of encouragement help a patient to cope up with their journey and speed up the recovery process. Friends and visitors must avoid asking medical questions such as tumor markers, chemotherapy, cancer treatment, and other personal questions as it would disrupt the mental peace of a patient.
Don’t minimize their experience
Avoid saying words and sentences that might make them feel sorry for themselves. Try saying “I hope it will be okay or “I’m really sorry,” instead of Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. Also, do not refer to any cancer as good cancer; these statements downplay what they are going through actually.
Long chats in the right direction tend to relieve the mental pressures that prey on cancer patients. A family friend, for instance, could narrate stories that relate outstanding recoveries in cancer patients. In this context, cancer patients can also join communities of survivors that share their recovery experiences. A large group of survivors could form a social club that meets regularly; members could read books and periodicals and attend a shared dinner event. These actions boost their self-esteem and create positive energies in their minds and hearts. Interested members of society can choose to join such groups and lead members in a positive direction.
Balanced etiquette and a sensitive approach to dealing with patients and survivors of cancer can make a world of difference among recoverees. Members of the society, friends, relatives, and fellow survivors can co-operate to create wonderful instances for a complete recovery, thereby elevating the quality of life for patients. These examples can form the bedrock of social attitudes that prevail in modern society and become a shining beacon of hope and encouragement for those who have cancer.
Scheduling the work :
Survivors can talk to their employers and let them know that you are planning to resume work. Discuss your job role, your availability, flexible timings, extra breaks, time off for hospital appointments, job sharing, etc., that might help in dealing with the challenges of the job. Survivors can request their employers to assign them specific duties that do not tax their energies. This is essential because a cancer survivor requires time and effort to resume work responsibilities. In line with this, an employer may be requested to restructure a job profile, grant permission to a survivor to work from home, implement re-training and refresher courses for a returning survivor, adjust workplace policies to accommodate a survivor, and so on. Besides, the employer may consider employing rehabilitation counselors who can help cancer survivors to re-adjust psychologically to the demands of a professional working environment.
Dealing with discrimination at the workplace :
Workers and support staff may face discrimination, and that might impact the reintegration of a cancer survivor in the workplace. This may hurt the sentiments of the cancer survivors. Therefore, survivors can contact human resources professionals to ward off any perceived or real discrimination at work. They can document any incidents that point to discrimination by noting the time and place of certain interactions and sharing the same with the human resources department. Further, survivors could take the initiative to retain paper copies of their work evaluations and comments from supervisors or work managers. Such a stance enables cancer survivors to defend their actions if
any situation arises in the future.
Equality at the workplace :
Survivors are entitled to equal opportunities and balanced performance evaluations at the professional workplace. Such individuals should discover and engage with relevant laws and expert advice in a bid to safeguard their rights and entitlements. Survivors should also aim to fulfill their responsibilities at work and discharge all duties expected of their position. Additionally, they must remain aware of their rights and defend these in the face of any unfair challenges.
Coping with stress :
Stress is common in the workplace, and one must learn to cope up with it. The returning employee should take maximum efforts to re-adjust at the workplace. This can be accomplished by seeking permission to work fewer hours, taking breaks from the rhythms of work, sitting on comfortable chairs, carrying medication in designated containers, creating a small support group at the workplace, etc. Also, cancer survivors must remind themselves to take deep breaths, avoid anxiety in any form, re-schedule work patterns with permission from their mentors and supervisors, delegate tasks, etc. Such actions enable faster recovery and empower survivors to re-integrate better into the
Accepting help from co-workers :
Being An open mind and a positive attitude can empower the cancer survivor to handle their role better. In line with this, survivors should accept help and assistance from co-workers, engage in conversations, apply themselves to bring about useful solutions to work problems, engage with managers and supervisors, speak to counselors, etc. Further, they must plan before conversing with people about their medical condition; such planning should help safeguard confidential information about a survivor's state of physical and mental health. Essentially, higher levels of interaction can contribute positively to a complete reintegration; this is necessary to ensure a long-term
professional career after cancer treatment.
These ideas and suggestions must be considered when cancer survivors seek to pursue meaningful employment in the aftermath of medical treatment. Members of the immediate family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers can form an informal network to support survivors' return to the workplace. Such support can assist survivors gain strength in their minds and participate in the regular flow of events at the modern workplace. Returning to work after cancer treatment is not always easy. But, with careful planning and openness, work can be a source of pride and socialization again.
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A healthy lifestyle is an ongoing process and must be prioritized by women even after their cancer treatment. You may have already followed a healthy regime before, and during the cancer treatment, it’ll be beneficial if you continue the same. Here are the top-most lifestyle changes that may help you feel better and recover speedily
Tons of sleep: Good for recovery
Each patient who has undergone treatment for any form of cancer should aim to acquire healthy sleep cycles. This allows the human body to rejuvenate, gain its energies, improve the human mood, control weight, re-develop memory, increase attention cycles, and so on. In line with this, each patient should stick to regular bedtimes at night and rule out any distractions. Therefore, all forms of digital devices should be excluded from the bedroom. Besides, a dark, cool bedroom assists in recovery; this should be a priority for patients recovering from cancer treatment regimens. Further, recovering patients should avoid the consumption of stimulants, such as caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.
Good, healthy diet is essential
A healthy diet is necessary to assist recovery in the phase of life that follows cancer treatment. Patients and their family members must try to include different types of green vegetables in the regular diet of a recovering patient. Foods high in fiber content such as beans, whole grains, nuts, lentils, seeds, etc. can boost dietary fiber and must be included. Also, patients must consume healthy portions of probiotic and prebiotic foods to rejuvenate the digestion canal. Medical professionals encourage the consumption of raw garlic, raw or cooked onions, artichokes, legumes, and beans during the recovery phase of a patient.
Regular exercise can speed up recovery
Regular exercise can help the human body recover faster from cancer treatment procedures. Therefore, a patient should consult healthcare professionals and other specialists to develop a fitness routine. Short, moderately intense bursts of physical exercise can pump the heart muscles, thereby improving blood circulation in the human body. In addition, walking and standing should be included in the fitness routine. A patient could network with other recovering patients to form a small community that exercises together regularly. Such a stance helps inculcate the team spirit and encourages each member to participate in physical exercise regimens. Further, recovering patients should avoid sitting still for a longer time.
Quit smoking, quit second-hand smoke
Cancer survivors should make a conscious and ongoing effort to quit smoking and chewing tobacco. Healthcare specialists urge survivors to join an anti-smoking campaign as part of efforts to improve physical and mental health following medical treatment. They should also undertake efforts to avoid smoke-laden bars and restaurants in a bid to avoid second-hand smoke. Further, a non-smoking workplace should ideally help in the recovery process, therefore enabling patients to gain complete recovery from any form of cancer.
Stay connected with friends and family
Social support remains an important element that speeds up recovery in patients that have undergone treatment for cancer. In line with this, survivors should make an effort to communicate with friends and other members of the cancer survivor community. Telephone calls, video calls, social media networks may also assist in such recovery. Such actions enable cancer survivors to regain their mental and psychological strength.
Lower stress – best for recovery
Taking regular walks, listening to music, watching a movie, going out for meals with friends, using various relaxation techniques, etc. can help control the incidence of stress in the minds of recovering patients. Such activities regulate the release of stress hormones and pave the way for a patient to achieve a normal lifestyle. The avoidance of stressful situations also acts as a tonic for the health of a survivor. These acts also boost self-esteem and allow recovering patients to gain sound mental and physical health.
These suggestions can help cancer survivors regain a normal lifestyle and prevent a relapse of health complications. Members of the society and immediate family should support and encourage cancer survivors to gain a healthy lifestyle at the earliest.
A proper recovery can extend the lifespan of patients recovering from various forms of cancer. Health professionals state that cancer patients might find spiritual healing and emotional pleasure from books and journals. This expands the idea that a healthy mind can speed up the recovery process for a cancer patient. In this context, a different genre of books such as mythology, self-help, contemporary, travel, romance, mystery, horror, memoir, art, historical fiction, poetry, science-fiction, classics, business, etc. can help in the recovery process. Similarly, certain forms of light and moderate exercise can aid the recovery process. Yoga remains one of the best kinds of physical activity that allows recovering patients to find solace and come to terms with the medical condition, thus speeding up the recovery process.
USING BOOKS AS A THERAPY
Reading books in this context is also termed as bibliotherapy; such actions can help patients raise their levels of self-awareness, elevate the levels of empathy for others undergoing cancer treatment, reduce the occurrence of negative thoughts, raise levels of hope, and attain certain positive feelings and thoughts. The act of reading books also allows patients to rise above their current condition, which allows for faster recovery from trauma and chronic feelings of illness. Therefore, family members of cancer patients and professional caregivers must encourage the book reading habit in the daily lives of patients undergoing treatment for cancer.
Many types of reading, such as spiritual reading, classic novels, and science fiction, can introduce new thoughts and energies in patients undergoing treatment for cancer. A patient can explore the world of modern literature while setting the mind free from the many worries imposed by cancer treatment. As a family member, you can extend support to this strategy by presenting new sets of books to a recovering patient; this act can strengthen family bonds and improve the mood of patients undergoing recovery. This will help the patients to return to a normal lifestyle.
YOGA – EXCELLENT AS COMPLEMENTARY THERAPY
Yoga, as a physical exercise regimen, helps in improving the physical and mental well-being of cancer patients. Research studies indicate the emphatic benefits of yoga in terms of improved mood states, symptom reduction, stress reduction, and improved quality of life. Further, several meta-analysis and reviews reveal unequivocal benefits for yoga with respect to expectations, benefits, and state of mind in recovering cancer patients. Therefore, patients must be encouraged to join yoga communities and undertake these exercises to reinstate themselves in the mainstream of society.
Yoga teachers can help cancer patients relax and cope with stress, anxiety, and depression through natural treatment methods. Healthcare professionals state that yoga can help to uplift the mood. Some people with cancer say that yoga helps calm their minds so that they can cope better with cancer and its modern forms of treatment. Others say it helps to deal with pain, tiredness, sleep problems, and mental depression.
The cancer journey can be tiring and tedious; minor changes in lifestyle along with inculcating some good habits like reading books and practicing yoga may benefit cancer patients.
With the increase in the number of breast cancer cases in India, the fear of cancer is on the rise. One cannot prevent breast cancer but can increase the survival rates by being informed and choosing the right treatment at the right time. Patients diagnosed with breast cancer need planned and systemic therapy, which is personalized based on their cancer condition.
Here are some alarming facts about breast cancer in India that will help patients understand breast cancer and the reason to opt for a personalized treatment :
• Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in India.
• Breast cancer is the most common cancer in most cities and the second most common in rural India.
• Breast cancer accounts for 25% to 32% of female cancers in all cities across India.
• In India, one woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 4 minutes.
• One woman dies of breast cancer, every 13 minutes in India.
• An estimated 70,218 women died of breast cancer in India, in the year 2012, the highest in the world for that year.
• Only 60% of women who are treated for breast cancer, survive for at least five years post-treatment in India as compared to 89% in the US.
• The high mortality rate is due to the lack of awareness and delay in screening and diagnosis.
• More than 50% of breast cancer patients in India are suffering from stage 3 and 4, where the chances of survival are extremely low.
• India sees a spurt in the cases of breast cancer in the age group of 30 to 50, and the same is likely to increase.
• Breastfeeding often interrupts periods, which leads to fewer menstrual cycles and less estrogen exposure, leading to about a 4.3 percent reduction in the overall risk of breast cancer for every 12 months of breastfeeding.
• According to the National Institute of Health, breast cancer survivors are at an increased risk of osteoporosis. Estrogen has a protective effect on bones, and reduced estrogen levels can trigger bone loss.
Breast cancer cannot be prevented but it can surely be treated within time. Here are some things that all of us can do :
• Be aware and spread about breast cancer diagnosis, symptoms, breast cancer recurrence tests, and the right treatment.
• Learn about self-tests and regularly examine your breasts on your own.
• Visit an oncologist if you feel any abnormalities in your breasts.
• Early detection is a blessing. It means breast cancer can be treated, and you have the chance to live a healthy life post-recovery.
• Stage 1 and 2 breast cancer patients are eligible to take breast cancer recurrence prediction test namely CanAssist Breast to find out their recurrence risk score.
• Depending on the score, the doctor and patient can personalize their treatment.
Talk to more people and spread the word about breast cancer, treatments and medical tests like CanAssist Breast that can help in personalizing breast cancer treatment by letting the patient know their breast cancer recurrence risk score.
To know more about CanAssist Breast, please click here or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
What will happen to her body when she is undergoing chemotherapy? What kind of pain will she have to go through? Is she mentally prepared for chemotherapy? Will chemotherapy affect her emotionally? The mind is occupied with ample thoughts and emotions when loved ones undergo chemotherapy, and, fear is the most distressing one.
1. Fear of losing hair:
Loss of hair is among the most common side effects of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy affects all the cells in the body including the healthy ones, especially the ones that grow rapidly. Here are a few more things you must know about hair loss and chemotherapy:
• Not everyone faces an equal amount of hair loss.
• The amount of hair loss, thinning, or falling of hair depends on the chemotherapy dosage and medication.
• Hair loss due to chemotherapy can be sudden or can be a slow process.
• Patients may either lose all the hair or just a part of it.
• It is possible to lose hair from all parts of the body; not just on the head.
2. Fear of chronic side effects:
A lot of people fear that chemotherapy leaves patients with chronic side effects, which might stay with them forever. This is not true for all patients and all kinds of cancers. Different patients experience varying lengths of side effects – some for weeks and months and some for years. The patient’s cancer care specialist might be able to share information about the long-term and short-term side effects and the tenure of side effects. Some side effects can also be treated with medication or therapy.
3. Fear of chemotherapy being physically painful:
Agreed, chemotherapy is painful. However, patients should know that certain pains caused by chemotherapy could be treated by the medication or by alternative therapies. As per cancer care experts, patients should remember that most often the anxiety of what is going to happen can psychologically heighten the perception of pain. The physical pain caused by chemotherapy doesn’t necessarily have to be as painful as considered to be.
4. Side effects of chemotherapy:
Some of the common side effects of chemotherapy are nausea, hair loss, constipation, anemia, weight loss, fertility problems, kidney problems, and so on. Having said this, patients need to know that:
• Every patient has different levels of side effects. Some patients might experience higher side effects than other patients.
• Certain side effects can be prevented with the help of extra care and medication.
• Some side effects have long term impact whereas some lasts for a shorter tenure.
Medical research and innovation have made it possible for some women to avoid chemotherapy. In India, 95% of cancer patients choose to undergo chemotherapy, whereas a large percentage of them can avoid it. Studies show that chemotherapy can be avoided in 70% early stage HER2 positive breast cancer patients.
Prognostic tests like CanAssist Breast helps the patients to know their breast cancer recurrence risk score and possibly avoid chemotherapy. It makes personalized treatment possible while keeping the costs down in low-risk cases.
Chemotherapy is a tough fight, but constantly telling yourself that you CAN make through it, is the best way to deal with the fear of chemotherapy. Remember, “This Too Shall Pass”!
Cancer specialists often face families and friends who are always worried about their loved ones suffering from cancer. Most of the worries revolve around finalizing the best hospital, opting right treatment, the duration of the treatment, and the cost involved to treat the disease. Though new medications and tests have gained impetus in the medical industry, patients and families are skeptic about the new treatments.
Cancer specialists who recommended breast cancer recurrence test such as CanAssist Breast to patients have faced several such inhibitions from them. Here are a few more challenges that cancer specialists face while educating the patients about
breast cancer recurrence tests:
Most of the cancer recurrence tests are expensive and comes as a huge burden to the patients. It adds to the existing diagnosis, medication, surgery, and other treatment-related bills.
However, patients should look at it as an expense that could save them from heavier medical expenses, especially from chemotherapy and radiation. Patients whose breast cancer recurrence score is low can skip chemotherapy, thereby can save lakhs of rupees. Also, the cancer care specialists will have better knowledge about the tumor and can accordingly personalize the treatment, thereby; avoiding overtreatment and undertreatment.
Trust-worthiness of machine-based tests :
In India, companies are using AI and machine learning-based tests for better cancer diagnosis and treatment by making it accurate, accessible, and affordable. Among the most significant advantages of using AI and machine learning is that these technologies can read a large amount of data with accuracy and within less time.
CanAssist Breast digitizes historical medical records of patients, feeds into an AI-algorithm which then analyzes the reports to create actionable insights for doctors. The test reads and analyzes tissue abnormality and identifies tumors that can develop into cancer – a benefit of technology that human expertise cannot possibly match.
Future predictability :
Some breast cancers are driven by natural hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. Clinicians refer to these cancers as hormone receptor-positive if they are estrogen receptor-positive (ER positive) and/or progesterone receptor-positive (PR positive). Hormone therapy for breast cancer is only used to treat cancers that are ER or PR positive.
Despite conventional hormone therapy, approximately 20–30% of patients with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer will suffer recurrences and the development of metastatic disease.
Considerable progress has been made in this area, and newer therapeutic targets have been developed against several hormonal resistance mechanisms. Experts at OncoStem perform the test by analyzing the expression of five protein biomarkers using OncoStem’s proprietary machine-learning algorithm. The test reprt is dispatched within ten business days. The doctor and patient can further discuss the test reports and personalize the treatment.
Want to know more about our breast cancer recurrence test? Get in touch with us!
I am Meenakshi. I live in the buzzing city of Pune (India). I am 39 years right now and completely healthy. Let me take you back in time, the year 2016; My 36th birthday celebration was still on, both at home and hospital. I work as a part-time therapist in a non-profit hospital. All my patients gathered to celebrate my birthday, and this really touched me. At home, my husband and my 3-year-old boy had baked a not-so-good-looking, but love-filled cake. I was thrilled, and it was the best way I could turn 36.
The next morning, while in the shower, I felt a lump in my breast. I assumed I was imagining it and was worrying for no reason. I ignored it for a few days and continued with my daily commitments.
After a long day at work, I was getting ready to go to bed when I felt the lump again. Now, it was almost a week, and I could feel the lump every day. I decided to ask Dr. Sushma, the GP in the OPD at my hospital. Dr. Sushma hesitated a bit after checking me. This got me extremely anxious and worried. She said, “I am not too sure, I think you should get a scan done’’, I looked at her with a curious eye and asked, “You mean, it might be cancer?” She quickly gathered herself and shrugged, “I am not sure, I think it’s better to get a test done before concluding anything.”
I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. And, the only thing my oncologist told me, “Don’t be worried. You should be happy you got it checked so early. Early detection is really a plus. The cancer is at a stage when it can be treated, and you can be back to your regular normal life.”
I think this is what stuck to me the most. It’s a normal ailment that can be cured and I am going to work towards making that happen. This attitude of mine along with family support made me strong and we were ready to overcome everything that came our way.
A few weeks later, came the turning point of my life. The tumor was surgically removed. Dr. Priya, my oncologist suggested to take up CanAssist Breast test to find out the breast cancer recurrence risk before going ahead with the treatment.
CanAssist Breast provided additional information about my tumor. The test results helped us to identify the likelihood of cancer returning to a distant site after surgery. Luckily, I was under the low-risk recurrence zone and I was spared from chemotherapy and its side-effects. This timely action of mine not only saved the cost of treatment but also helped me in leading a quality life.
Today, being a breast cancer survivor, I thank OncoStem and Dr. Manjiri for helping me take the most important and timely decision of my life. The decision to take CanAssistBreast test helped me in personalizing my treatment and leading a normal life.
1. Precision treatments for breast cancer
Precision medicine or personalized therapies for breast cancer are those that are tailored to a specific patient to give the most effective treatment. It considers the genetic makeup or other markers in the cancer cells, blood, and tumor tissues and non-genetic factors such as lifestyle. From diagnosis, treatment to prevention and care, this approach includes the collection and analysis of blood or tumor tissue.
The advantages of precision medicine:
- Avoid unnecessary treatment
- The treatments involved in cancer such as radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and surgery could have side effects. With precision medicine, these side effects can be avoided.
- It makes it easier to identify and involve specific medical experts depending on the need of the patient as opposed to a general medical expert or oncologist.
2. AI and data analytics for breast cancer treatment
To tackle the numerous problems related to breast cancer such as late diagnosis, over-treatment, unaffordable treatments, and inaccessibility of treatment options, multiple companies have been researching and developing different solutions. Employing different technologies ranging from artificial intelligence and machine learning, the development of tech-based innovation for breast cancer has rapidly advanced in recent years.
For example, mammography is no longer the screening test that works for all. Tests such as digital breast tomosynthesis, whole-breast ultrasound, and AI-powered are more accessible, personalized, and affordable screening methods. Highly capable 3D mammography machines are simplifying early detection and breast cancer recurrence prediction tests and are helping patients to bypass chemotherapy altogether.
3. Tests that predict breast cancer recurrence
Breast cancer isn’t the same for each patient. There are different kinds of breast cancers, and they respond differently to different treatments. For example, oncologists are now planning treatments for patients based on their specific breast cancer conditions. These treatment decisions are based on whether they are HER2-positive, lymph node-positive, post or pre-menopausal, and other such factors.
Precision treatments are also based on the groups that different patients belong to, such as HER2-positive, lymph node-positive, post or pre-menopausal, and other such groups. Today, all women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer do not need chemotherapy. A few years ago, almost 95% of patients would definitely undergo chemotherapy as a measure to keep cancer away post-surgery.
OncoStem’s CanAssist Breast is a prognostic test that classifies the patients as ‘low-risk’ or ‘high-risk’ based on the patient’s breast cancer recurrence risk over five years.
Here’s how the test works:
- Once the tumor is removed by surgery, it is essential to determine if the patient has cancer recurrence chances.
- Upon taking the CanAssist Breast test, the diagnosis is considered in deciding the treatment plan for the patient. If the patient is categorized as low-risk, she can avoid chemotherapy.
- Apart from the test results, the oncologists consider other factors such as age, history, lifestyle, tumor size, and grade to plan the treatment.
4. The widespread reach of breast cancer screenings and treatments
Experts have noted peculiar observations in breast cancer occurrences in India. There is an increased incidence in younger age groups in rural and urban areas. With the number of breast cancer occurrences consistently on the rise, awareness about breast cancer recurrence risk is a must.
Up until a few years back, a large number of women in the rural areas suffered due to non-diagnostics and lack of facilities for cancer diagnosis and care in these regions. However, owing to the fact that the AI and tech-based screenings and treatments do not involve complex logistics or the need of physical examination, the availability of tests and medicines is penetrating deeper in rural and underserved regions, too.
These are some novel and innovative approaches in tests and treatments over the last few years:
Telemedicine: An unmanned telemedicine clinic where patients come face-to-face with medical experts from across the country. The process is carried out online that allows doctors and patients to see each other virtually.
Data analytics in medicine: A number of tests only require a small sample tissue from the cancer tumor to read, study, and access the cancer condition of the patients. These samples can be easily and safely couriered from any part of the country in just a few days enabling patients from unserved regions to access medical help.
India has the lowest doctor-patient ratio in the world. In such a scenario, these machine-based tests are helping reach a larger number of patients.
5. More affordable tests and treatments
For years, people have associated the word ‘cancer’ with being an expensive disease. Even though characterized as ‘low-cost’ by global standards, it still remains unaffordable for the majority of the population.
With new, advanced, improved, and innovative breast cancer treatments, the problem is being tackled by several cancer treatment institutes and startups. With continued research and development, startups are striving to make the tests even cheaper and affordable for a large segment of the population.
The need for the hour is to spread awareness about these options among patients and their loved ones.
Stay informed and spread the word!
personal factors need attention, too. Those with early-stage breast cancer should know a few basic things before they begin their breast cancer treatment.
Here are 5 things every early-stage breast cancer patient should know:
1. Breast cancer brings with it the need for psycho-social care
The news of breast cancer diagnosis brings emotions and distress in the lives of the patients and their family members. Fear, anxiety, panic, and stress are among the common types of psychological effects that come with breast cancer. It includes cognitive, social, and functional problems. The levels of distress vary from patient to patient and family-to-family based on the disease and the treatment. As early-stage breast cancers are highly likely to be cured with ease, patients and family members should know that their distress would reduce gradually.
They may need the following care and help :
• Help in coping with depression, fear, and anxiety about the recurrence or progression.
• Help and support from family members, spouses, and relatives to understand them better.
2. Know your breast cancer – weigh the treatment options
All breast cancers are not the same, even at the early-stage. Stages 1 and 2 are categorized as early-stage. At this stage, the tumor is small, which means that it hasn’t spread to other parts of the body. Depending on the breast cancer type and the tumor grade, the oncologists will decide the treatment.
Years of scientific advances, technology, machine learning, therapeutics, and studies focused on cancer have come together to make personalized treatments for breast cancer possible. Oncologists are now studying the biology of patients’ tumor to decide the ideal cure. Patients with early-stage breast cancer need to know that the possibilities of personalized treatments to cure their cancer are positive.
Knowing your breast cancer in detail is essential because it can help you play an active part in deciding your treatment.
3. Managing professional life
The news about breast cancer can have adverse effects on a person’s professional life. Apart from managing and planning treatment, a woman has to decide whether to continue or quit working during her treatment. A decision to not work might leave the patient stressed about the expenses related to her treatment and the fear of losing the job if the employer is not supportive.
A woman with early-stage breast cancer has several factors to deal when it comes to work. Some patients might experience biases. Employers might not assign important jobs or projects to patients due to uncertainty or lack of confidence in the patient’s ability. Co-workers might start treating patients differently- with more care and support or the opposite. Patients have to deal with these changes at the workplace with a lot of care and maturity.
4. Early-stage breast cancer patients have high survival chances
In India, breast cancer cases have doubled over the past 25 years. Breast cancer accounts for around 8.2% of all cancers and the survival rate is still low at 66%, compared to 40% in the West. One of every two breast cancer patients in India doesn’t survive the disease. The reason: late detection.
As the stages advance, meaning an increase in the size of the tumor, its potential to spread in other parts of the body also increases. This affects patients’ chances of treatment and survival. If breast cancer involves the lymph nodes and/or if the tumor is larger, the chances of survival are lesser. If breast cancer is detected at an
early-stage, the chances of effective treatment are higher.
5. Support from family, friends, and gathering of information
It is important that families, friends, and spouses support breast cancer patients throughout their cancer journey. Physical, emotional, and mental support must be extended to the patient. The support of the family and the comfort of the patient are most important to deal with the situation in the best possible way. Every family and household will deal with it in a different way depending on the members and their needs. Here are some ways and things to do:
• Be patient
• Be open and have wholehearted conversations
• Read a lot about the patient’s condition to get a better understanding
• Research and explore all the possible treatments
• Let the patient know that you’re always there when needed
• Talk about financial help and how you will manage the expenses
• Help the patients deal with health insurance policies
• Be physically present when the patient needs help and support
• Talk about emotions and emotional needs of the patients
Knowing and understanding some of these basic and simple things about your breast cancer condition can help you to plan your treatment wisely.
Remember, early-stage breast cancer patients have a higher chance of eliminating the disease and living carefree.