Living With Cancer Tips

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Can cancer patients suffer from depression?

Cancer Information: Care Giving - Depression in Cancer Patients

With cancer, sadness and grief are normal, but sometimes these feelings last a long time and get in the way of day-to-day activities. Clinical depression occurs in one in four people with cancer, and is a treatable illness. If family and friends notice any of the signs from the list below, they should encourage the cancer patient to get help for depression. Treatment for depression includes medications, counseling, a combination of medications and counseling, or specialized treatments. Getting treatment for depression can greatly increase the quality of life of the cancer patient.

  • Sad or "empty" mood almost every day for most of the day
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Eating problems (loss of appetite or overeating), including weight loss or gain
  • Sleep changes (inability to sleep, early waking, or oversleeping)
  • Fatigue or decreased energy almost every day
  • Other people notice that you are restless or "slowed down" almost every day
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or attempts at suicide
  • Wild mood swings from depression to periods of agitation and high energy

If five or more of the above-listed symptoms are noticed and the symptoms last for longer than two weeks, or are very severe, the cancer patient should be evaluated by a qualified health professional.

If the cancer patient has had cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, the patient's eating habits may change. Sleeping habits may also change, as chemotherapy can suck the energy right out of you, so before recommending help, know what medications and treatments the cancer patient is on, and note if there are other signs of clinical depression. When in doubt, always schedule an evaluation.

Can prostate cancer kill?

Prostate Cancer Facts

The prostate glad is located under the bladder in males only. It surrounds the neck of the bladder and the urethra. The prostate is about the size of a walnut. There are three glands necessary for reproduction. The prostate gland is one of them, and it is the gland that is responsible for producing sticky, milky fluid of acids and enzymes to house the sperm in the semen. This fluid makes up for about 15 percent of the semen.

Prostate cancer starts in the cells of the prostate gland, but can spread to the bladder, colon, rectum, bone and other parts of the body. A blood test and physical exam can help to discover prostate cancer. If it is caught early enough (at least before it spreads, but preferably earlier), it can be cured.

About 189,000 men in the United States are newly diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. Though one in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, only one in 30 die from prostate cancer. About 96 percent of the men diagnosed with prostate cancer live at least five years. About 75 percent of the men diagnosed with prostate cancer live at least 10 years.

In most cases, prostate cancer will not be symptomatic until it is very advanced. Once a male turns 50, he should have prostate screenings each year. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be used to kill prostate cancer cells if caught early enough. The prostate can also be surgically removed in order to try to keep the cancer from spreading.

Are there treatments to ease cancer symptoms?

Lung Cancer: Treatments

There are two different types of lung cancer—small cell and non-small cell. Additionally, the size of the tumor, location and the extent of the tumor, combined with the general health of the lung cancer patient dictates what type of treatment will or can be used on the patient. Quality of life can be increased with some treatments or combinations of treatments.

Depending on the location and size of the tumor, surgery can be used to remove the tumor. If size and location dictates that surgery is not an option, there are other ways to control the cancer.

Chemotherapy kills cancer cells, and may be used for some patients with lung cancer. Anticancer drugs are introduced to control the cancer growth and/or to relieve symptoms of cancer. Chemotherapy is done with an injection or via a catheter placed in a large vein. The catheter stays in the vein for as long as it is needed. Anticancer drugs may also be given in the form of a pill, in some circumstances.

High-energy rays can also kill cancer cells. This is known as radiation therapy or radiotherapy. The rays are directed to the cancerous area. Radiation therapy is sometimes used to shrink a tumor prior to surgery. It can also relieve some cancer symptoms, such as shortness of breath.

Another type of treatment is photodynamic therapy. This is a laser therapy wherein a special chemical is injected into the bloodstream and absorbed by cells all over the body. The chemical leaves the normal cells, but stays in the cancer cells longer. A laser light is then aimed at the cancer, which activates the chemical and kills the cancer cells. This treatment can be used to control bleeding or blocked airways.

Does a cancer patient have to go to the doctor every day for medication?

Living with Cancer: Home Care Management

Some cancer treatments can be administered at home, if the cancer patient's insurance company will allow it. Contact the health insurance company to see what its procedures are regarding home care cancer management. If the cancer patient is homebound, the insurance company may make an exception and allow certain frequent treatments to be done at home.

Treatments that can be done at home include:

  • Pills
  • Intravenous (IV) chemo
  • IV antibiotics
  • Subcutaneous (sub-Q) injections (shots given under the skin)
  • Intramuscular (IM) injections (shots given into a muscle) What the patient can do
If home treatments include pills, make sure you take the pills as instructed. If you must take pills in the middle of the night, set an alarm. Keep a glass of water and the pills on the nightstand, so you do not have to get up. Research the side effects of certain medication. Some medication may cause nausea if taken on an empty stomach.

If the treatment includes intravenous medications, a home health nurse will come to the patient's home to administer the IV fluids. For Subcutaneous or intramuscular injections, the patient or the patient's caregiver will be shown how to administer these medications. Always be sure to practice good hygiene when using needles and discard used needles properly.

Are there anonymous ways of coping with cancer?

Living with Cancer: Coping

Coping with cancer can be an emotional roller coaster that leaves the cancer patient and his or her caregivers emotionally drained. This can possibly lead to depression and thoughts of suicide.

There are many online sites with forums and support groups and support groups “in real life” that can help with coping with cancer. Additionally, some patients and caregivers have learned that certain actions go a long way in helping with coping with cancer and staving off depression:

  • Look for more information when problems arise when bad news is presented.
  • Talk with others and share concerns when a problem arises.
  • Try to lighten up and see the humor in a tough situation.
  • On some days, just try not to think about the illness.
  • Keep busy to distract yourself from being sick.
  • If reliable information shows a change in treatment is needed, do it without delay.
  • Re-examine life, but still enjoy activities and visiting with people.
Using all of these methods may or may not work for each individual. Each patient and caregiver should do what works for that individual person. Some people are very private and may not like talking to others about their illness—talking to the doctor or other health professional can help, or finding an anonymous group of cancer patients or caregivers can take the place of talking to someone you know. When working online, you can always use a screen name to protect identity and privacy. The patient and the caregiver still get the benefits of talking about the illness without “attaching” the illness to his or her person.

What is a good way to relieve the stress of a terminal cancer patient's remaining time?

Terminal Cancer: Getting Affairs in Order

Sometimes, cancer cannot be cured or stopped (remission). In cases like this, depending on how long the person has had the cancer, how much it has spread and where it is located, the terminal cancer patient usually has some time to get his or her affairs in order. The sooner the affairs are in order, the easier it will be to live with terminal cancer—the terminal cancer patient and the caregivers will not have to worry what might happen when the patient dies.

Though the terminal cancer patient and the caregivers may not feel up to doing this, as everyone may be dealing with emotions and feelings regarding the diagnosis, it is in the best interest of the terminal cancer patient and his or her family to make sure everything is in order. If things are in order, when the time comes, there is much less to deal with, and the family and friends can attend to their feelings without having to worry about other arrangements.

Things that should be taken care of ahead of time, if at all possible, include:

  • Funeral home selection
  • Prepayment of funeral expenses, if possible
  • Obituary information
  • Funeral wishes
  • Church selection, favorite passages/hymns
  • Cremation or burial
  • Cemetery plot
  • Memorial contributions (favorite charity or organization)
  • Will, bank accounts, attorney, pension plans, retirement funds, life insurance
If everything is prearranged soon after the diagnosis, when the time comes, everything will be much more organized and the stress levels will be lower for all involved, including the terminal cancer patient, as he or she can live easier during the his or her last days, months or years.

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