The Nature of Cancer

posted Jan 4, 2012, 9:44 AM by Unknown user
Continuum Care

Cancer Insights

Hope

ABOUT CONTINUUM CARE

Hospice is a special kind of caring. Hospice care involves a team oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management and emotional and spiritual support, expressly tailored to the patient's needs and wishes. Support is extended to the patient's loved ones as well.

 

This approach is what Continuum Care is all about.  Our goal at CCI is to provide care to the terminally ill at home, in a supportive environment in which the patient is alert, free of pain and, along with those that he or she has chosen, makes the decisions regarding care. We are dedicated to making their end-of-life as comfortable and dignified as possible. To date, we have provided end-of-life care to over 1500 patients and their families, many of whom were able to return home from the mainland to be with their loved ones.

 

At the center of hospice is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so. The focus is on caring, not curing.  Hospice is dedicated to making that possible.

 

Hospice services are available to those who can no longer benefit from curative treatment or to those who decide not to pursue or continue treatment. Most hospice patients have a life expectancy of six months and receive their care at their residence.

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"A Special kind of Caring"  

 

Nature of Cancer jpg

 

Understanding why cancer operates the way in which it does, helps us to fight it more effectively.  In a nutshell, cancer is a group of diseases characterized by mutated, dysfunctional and disorganized cells, which exhibit uncontrolled growth, and have the ability to invade and destroy nearby tissue and distant organs (metastasis).  The development of cancer occurs through genetic and environmental influences acting on our normal cells causing them to transform. Those transformed (mutated) cells acquire the ability to make their own blood supply (angiogenesis), allowing the cluster of newly formed, mutated cells (neoplasm) to grow rapidly. These new abnormal cells keep going through further mutations (structural changes in the genes of the cell's DNA ) every time they divide and replicate (every few hours or days). While the new cells become more dysfunctional to the host (person), they gain additional harmful characteristics allowing the cluster to flourish and proliferate.    Among other things, the neoplastic cells (now also known as malignant or cancer cells) acquire the properties of motility, invasion, adherence, and metastasis, while losing the behavior of normal cells which are regulated by contact inhibition, apoptosis (normal, programmed cell death), and adhering to itself. Normal cells stick to each other, stop multiplying when they bump into other cells (contact inhibition), and have a scheduled cell death when they are worn out (apotosis).   Cancer cells, instead of sticking to their own group of cells, drop off and adhere to a nearby different type of tissue, start growing and invading that tissue, and don't die.  They multiply faster than normal cells and crowd out the healthy functioning cells.   If, for instance, this took place in the bone marrow where blood cells are made, the person would either have too little of healthy functioning platelets, red, or white cells, or, they might have an abnormally high count of any or all of those blood cells, but the cells would be rapidly dividing immature cells, unable to perform the needed function of that organ. Consequently, the person may be (anywhere from a minor to a severe life threatening degree) anemic, prone to infections, or to uncontrolled bleeding. 

 
 

Focus on Living

 When cancer strikes, often the initial reaction is disbelief, confusion, and fear.  Additionally, one is suddenly bombarded with new responsibilities, and seemingly overwhelming medical schedules.  In that setting, it is difficult to absorb helpful information, or to envision a happy outcome.  However, such an outcome is not only possible, but often probable. 

Arming oneself with an arsenal of pertinent information can literally be the difference between life and death, between sickness and health, and, between despair and a happy, productive life.  The optimum time to acquire the information is before cancer is even in one's horizon.  This opportunity though, is not always possible.  Since it is never too late to add to one's repertoire of helpful information, Continuum Care Newsletter will now offer, for the following four months, a monthly section entitled "Cancer Insights".

 

Topics covered in "Cancer Insights" will range from understanding what cancer is, and its various types of treatment, to preventing or managing chemotherapy side effects.  Information will also be given on recognizing Oncological (cancer) emergencies, and when to call the doctor. The goal of this series is to improve one's quality of life through knowledge.  "Cancer Insights" is geared not only to the person confronted with cancer, but also to their families, loved ones, and caregivers.

 

In keeping with its philosophy of bringing comfort, dignity and the highest quality of life possible, Continuum Care hopes that the information gleaned from the four Cancer Insights articles will meet that goal by enriching one's life during the cancer experience.  Look for the next article to explore the nature of cancer and its varying treatments. 

 

-Gwendolyn Skeoch

Gwen Skeoch Bio

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