Cancer Patient Journey

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Cancer Patient Journey

Cancer patient journey to the right treatment

cancer patient journeyCancer patients often face numerous challenges in making decisions about their treatment plans. Even today, a cancer patient journey to the right treatment can be less then optimal, despite all the advances in technology and medicine. (You can click here to watch relevant video interview and testimonials). Although some cancer diagnoses may require only a single treatment protocol, most will require more sophisticated and involved multi-modal approaches to therapy. For example, some cancer patients may need a combination of surgery and chemotherapy, others will require chemotherapy and radiation treatments, etc. The choices of treatment depend on the type of cancer, its progression and numerous other factors. These choices can be complex, as is the nature of the decision-making process behind them. Each treatment modality has its own potential risks and intended desired benefits.

Most of us know that a cancer diagnosis means that the live is likely at risk. It is important to be aware that choosing the right treatment plan out of the gate is critical. In such circumstances the consequences of a wrong choice could be life-threatening. This situation adds more pressure and stress on cancer patients and may complicate their journey to the right treatment.


Cancer Treatment Plan

Medical practitioners recognize that the most important aspect of cancer treatment is the right treatment plan. Unfortunately, this is often the piece of a cancer patient journey that is neglected or ignored. Healthcare providers do not always have well-establish patient-centric processes. Instead, more often than not a cookie-cutter approach is in place. Customized, comprehensive cancer treatment plans are rare animals. There are numerous reasons as to why for this is happening. Prohibitive cost, limited access to medication, equipment and services, including cancer diagnostics, are some of the reasons for poor planning of cancer treatment.

Things can get even more complicated. For example, if the cancer diagnosis comes with the findings of a late stage or advanced form of the disease. In many cases of advanced metastatic cancers the palliative care is the only offering on the table. However, comprehensive treatment plans would allow patients to take a look not only at the options available locally. They would provide adequate information to patients on the choices and costs of cancer treatments that can be accessed internationally. Cancer patients can use this information for comprehensive discussions with their oncologists or other healthcare advisors. Such discussions can yield informed decisions and help to set cancer patients on their journey to the appropriate and timely treatment options.


5 Phases of Cancer Patient Journey to the Right Treatment 

A cancer patient journey to the right treatment can be defined in five phases. It starts with awareness and recognition phase, and moves to presentation and diagnosis phase. Following those two, are treatment selection phase and access to treatment. Finally, switching and persistence complete the journey and help to ensure its effectiveness.

The universe of cancer treatment options is not vast, but it does offer choices. Factors that influence the selection of treatment include characteristics of cancer, medical condition of the patient, the primary aim of the treatment and the costs. The primary intent of the treatment could be to cure cancer (usually in early stage or with less aggressive cancers). It also could be to prevent it from spreading or to suppress the manifestation of its symptoms.

Cancer type specific treatments usually target particular types of cancer, as the title implies. These newer types of treatments focus on the DNA of an individual to treat cancer. Cancer immunotherapy would be an example of such a treatment option. On the other hand, multi-cancer general procedures involve the use of techniques that target various forms of existing tumors. Irradiation, systemic and regional chemotherapy are some of such treatment types.

Appropriate treatment of cancer is essential for prolonging life and to increasing the survival chances of a cancer patient. It also may offer significantly better fighting chances. The criteria for selecting the appropriate treatment may include goals of the treatment, available treatment options, parameters of cancer and patient’s health. These criteria influence the selection of the treatment.


Impact of Cancer Treatment on the Quality of Life

In addition to the desired effect of the treatment, cancer patients should consider how the treatment will affect their overall health and quality of life (QoL). The side effects of some cancer treatments can be debilitating. The important part of every cancer patient journey to establishing a treatment plan is asking questions. Parameters of a patient’s cancer are the stage and grade of the cancer. The stage determines the extent to which cancer has spread and whether it is resectable (operable) on non-resectable. It will inform the doctors whether or not surgery is necessary or possible. The grade of cancer indicates the rate at which the cancer is spreading, or, what also can be described as its aggressiveness.

The main stakeholders in a cancer patient journey to the right treatment are their family, a circle of close friends and, of course, healthcare practitioners and advisors. In some cases family and friends can significantly influence cancer patients’ decisions, options and choices. Supportive family and friends enhance cancer patients’ journey through treatment and help to improve overall experience. Those who are proactive and curious can even play a critical role in the success of cancer patient treatment journey. It is individuals with such qualities who can usually be the first to discover a treatment option that might have not been known or considered originally.