Cancer is a general term used to describe a disturbance of cellular growth and refers to a group of diseases and not a single disease entity. There are currently more than 150 different known types of cancer. Because cancer is a cellular disease, it can arise from any body tissue, with manifestations that result from failure to control the proliferation and maturation of cells.
Diagnostic Studies for Cancer
Test selection depends on history, clinical manifestations, and index of suspicion for a particular cancer.
- Endoscopy: Used for direct visualization of body organs/cavities to detect abnormalities.
- Scans (e.g., magnetic resonance imaging [MRI], CT, gallium) and ultrasound: May be done for diagnostic purposes, identification of metastasis, and evaluation of response to treatment.
- Biopsy (fine-needle aspiration [FNA], needle core, incisional/excisional): Done to differentiate diagnosis and delineate treatment and may be taken from bone marrow, skin, organ, and so forth. Example: Bone marrow is done in myeloproliferative diseases for diagnosis; in solid tumors for staging.
- Tumor markers (substances produced and secreted by tumor cells and found in serum, e.g., carcinogenic embryonic antigen [CEA], prostate-specific antigen [PSA], alpha-fetoprotein, human chorionic gonadotropin [HCG], prostatic acid phosphatase, calcitonin, pancreatic oncofetal antigen, CA 15-3, CA 19-9, CA 125, and so on): Helpful in diagnosing cancer but more useful as prognostic indicator and/or therapeutic monitor. For example, estrogen and progesterone receptors are assays done on breast tissue to provide information about whether or not hormonal manipulation would be therapeutic in metastatic disease control. Note: Any hormone may be elevated because many cancers secrete inappropriate hormones (ectopic hormone secretion).
- Screening chemistry tests, e.g., electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium), renal tests (BUN/Cr), liver tests (bilirubin, AST, alkaline phosphatase, LDH), bone tests (calcium):Depend on individual condition, risk factors.
- CBC with differential and platelets: May reveal anemia, changes in RBCs and WBCs; reduced or increased platelets.
- Chest x-ray: Screens for primary or metastatic disease of lungs.
Nursing Priorities - Cancer Nursing Care Plans
- Support adaptation and independence.
- Promote comfort.
- Maintain optimal physiological functioning.
- Prevent complications.
- Provide information about disease process/condition, prognosis, and treatment needs.
Discharge Goals - Cancer Nursing Care Plans
- Patient is dealing with current situation realistically.
- Pain alleviated/controlled.
- Homeostasis achieved.
- Complications prevented/minimized.
- Disease process/condition, prognosis, and therapeutic choices and regimen understood.
- Plan in place to meet needs after discharge.
13 Cancer Nursing Care Plans
- Anticipatory Grieving — Cancer
- Situational Low Self-Esteem — Cancer
- Acute Pain — Cancer
- Altered Nutrition: Less Than Body Requirements — Cancer
- Risk for Fluid Volume Deficit — Cancer
- Fatigue — Cancer
- Risk for Infection — Cancer
- Risk for Altered Oral Mucous Membranes — Cancer
- Risk for Impaired Skin Integrity — Cancer
- Risk for Constipation/Diarrhea — Cancer
- Risk for Altered Sexuality Patterns — Cancer
- Risk for Altered Family Process — Cancer
- Fear/Anxiety — Cancer