Navigating cancer: The power of supportive care

Credit: Unsplash+

As cancer continues to impact lives globally, with high-profile diagnoses underscoring its indiscriminate nature, there is a growing awareness of the disease’s reach into younger demographics, particularly among those in their 30s and 40s.

Despite its daunting presence, the field of oncology is evolving rapidly, offering new hopes through advanced medical treatments that are transforming certain cancers into manageable long-term conditions rather than immediate life threats.

The foundational treatments for cancer—surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and hormone therapy—are crucial.

Yet, there is a growing recognition of the significant role of adjunctive or supportive cancer care strategies that enhance a patient’s quality of life and potentially, their survival and overall experience during treatment.

Exercise as Medicine

Recent insights have solidified the role of physical exercise in cancer care. Now deemed as potent as medicine itself, tailored physical activity can bolster the body’s defenses, creating an internal environment less conducive to cancer growth.

Exercise stimulates the immune system, enhancing the presence and efficacy of cancer-fighting cells within the bloodstream and tumor sites.

It promotes the release of myokines from skeletal muscles during and after physical activity, which have been found to slow cancer cell growth and promote their destruction.

Moreover, regular physical activity helps mitigate some of the harsh side effects of cancer treatments, such as fatigue, muscle and bone loss, and unwanted weight gain.

It also lowers the risk of other chronic conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and maintains or improves the mental health and overall quality of life of cancer patients.

Studies suggest that exercise can boost the effectiveness of standard treatments like chemotherapy and radiation and is essential for preparing patients for surgery and aiding their recovery, potentially reducing cancer-related mortality by as much as 40-50%.

The Impact of Mental Health

Another critical component is psycho-oncology, which addresses the psychological, social, behavioral, and emotional aspects of cancer.

This field aims to improve or maintain the quality of life for patients, their caregivers, and families by managing emotional distress and enhancing coping mechanisms.

Mental health care is crucial as emotional distress can exacerbate cancer progression through hormonal and inflammatory pathways. Therefore, supporting mental health is as vital as addressing the physical aspects of the disease.

Dietary Strategies in Cancer Care

Diet also plays a pivotal role in supportive cancer care. A well-balanced diet can fortify the body against cancer and aid in recovery from treatments. Reducing inflammation, particularly through an anti-inflammatory diet low in processed foods and high in fresh, plant-based foods, is beneficial.

Given that muscle loss is a common side effect of cancer treatments, incorporating adequate protein through diet or supplements is crucial, especially for older adults or those undergoing intensive treatments.

Specialized dietary needs may arise depending on the type of cancer and treatment. Conditions like cachexia, which causes significant weight loss, and treatments that lead to weight gain, require careful nutritional management to prevent subsequent health complications.

A Collaborative Approach to Care

Supportive care in cancer treatment emphasizes a team approach. Professionals such as accredited exercise physiologists, registered dietitians, and psychologists play integral roles in delivering comprehensive care that complements medical treatments.

These services, often available through referrals from general practitioners, can significantly enhance treatment outcomes and quality of life.

Cancer organizations and councils provide valuable resources and support, reinforcing the importance of a well-rounded approach to cancer care.

Through these multifaceted support systems, patients are not only treated for their illness but are also empowered to lead healthier lives during and after cancer.

If you care about cancer, please read studies about common drugs for inflammation may help kill cancer, and statin drugs can starve cancer cells to death.

For more information about cancer, please see recent studies about these two things are key to surviving cancer and results showing common Indian fruit may slow down cancer growth.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.