Screenings are important to detecting a problem, and if done early enough, they can help save your life. Chronic illnesses, such as cancer, prognosis is much better if discovered in the early stages. But also, treatments are much easier too with fewer side effects.
“Your own doctor knows your situation and he will suggest schedules (of age to screen),” said Celeste Adams, nurse navigator for Intermountain Southwest Cancer Center. “But in general, everyone should be screened.”
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Screenings can start at 21 years of age for women, and both men and women should self-screened for unusual changes to their bodies.
Intermountain’s Precision Genomics has been making major research strides into how cancer is treated and that includes improving the quality of life. The key of the research gains is through unlocking how DNA and treatments are connected.
“It’s an opportunity for us to take the cancer we have from the patient, remove the DNA from the cells, and identify exactly what the mutations are,” said David Loughmiller, lab manager for Intermountain Precision Genomics.
That result helps tailor the medications and treatments to that single patient. The treatments can be easier to tolerate and the body can respond better to potential harsh side effects from chemotherapy and radiation.
Advancements in treating cancer have come from various areas: technology, genomics, and pharmaceutical needs. Pharmacists have more tools and options to help those with cancer.
“The whole approach for treating cancer has seen significant changes. Especially in recent years and especially with advanced stage cancers,” said Travis Marchant, pharmacist at Intermountain Southwest Cancer Center. “With advancements in technology, doctors are able to detect cancer earlier. They can see cancer more closely and with much greater detail.”
While Marchant said that they wish that patients could avoid side effects completely, but he said pharmacists do work to try and minimize the side effects.
Jilynne Hafen, a social worker for the Intermountain Southwest Cancer Center, used the analogy of a tsunami when it comes to a cancer diagnosis on the family. Because much like a tsunami, the environment has changed.
The family must handle the emotions of cancer from the patient to all the caregivers. One of the initial steps is to recognize the emotional pain that everyone connected feels.
“We want to make sure we identify that they are grieving. They are not necessarily depressed, they are going through a natural grieving process and it’s not just the patient. It’s every person that loves that patient and cares for that patient. So we try to care for them at the same time,” Hafen said.
If you have a family member or friend dealing with cancer, listen to them and their emotions. The healing process can last long after the cancer has gone into remission. Also, if you or someone has cancer, take a few moments daily to enjoy your favorite things.
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