Quality Cancer Treatment
Until a cure for cancer is found, there must be a continuing focus on the quality of cancer treatment. Those professionals who work in the medical field, with a focus on cancer care, are generally committed to providing top quality care for their patients. However, there must be some standards established to determine what constitutes quality care and why top quality care is so important. With these standards in place, the professionals and the patients will know what to expect and will have a better understanding of what they face over the course of treatment. The standards can also be used by potential patients as they consider their treatment options.
There are many characteristics of the best quality care. One of the first is that practitioners adhere to the standards and guidelines established by those organizations that oversee cancer care treatment. Along with this adherence to standards, the practitioners should also focus their practices on evidence-based treatment methods. Many treatment centers and hospitals with cancer centers have adopted the standards established by the American Society of Clinical oncology, or ASCO.
Quality treatment includes comprehensive care of the cancer itself, the symptoms of the cancer, and all of the side effects that result from the cancer and the treatment methods. Ignoring any of the aspects of suffering and treatment can result in gaps that hinder full recovery. If any area of treatment is neglected, the quality of care will be poor and the cancer patient will suffer. These gaps will be a sure signal to patients to avoid the care provider.
In order for care to be most effective, any and all involved professionals should coordinate their efforts. Consistent communication between doctors, other professionals, and the patient can lead to a better exchange of information and a clearer path toward recovery. The patient should be able to fully discuss the prognosis and treatment of cancer with their doctor. As the patient comes to a full understanding of the purposes of therapy, he or she will be better able to communicate their preferences and beliefs with the professionals. The team approach to treatment can eliminate misunderstandings and competition between individual physicians.
A well-written treatment plan that covers all of the areas of treatment is important to successful care. The plan should outline each step in detail with full explanations, and some room for flexibility when it is necessary. An assessment of the patient’s psychosocial needs should be included in this plan as well as information about the resources available to the patient.
Palliative care refers to the comfort care given to patients with life-threatening illnesses and conditions. This type of care should be provided to the patient from the first moment of diagnosis to the culmination of treatment. For cancer survivors, this care may extend for many years. When necessary, end-of-life care should also be provided. This might include hospice care that lasts for as long as necessary. Comfort care won’t replace curative efforts, but can make the struggle easier for patients and their families.
Comprehensive cancer care and treatment should focus on cancer survivors as well. As survivors reach the end of active therapy, they have unique needs that treatment centers for cancer can provide. This care includes follow-up treatment and advocating for better services.
A treatment plan for follow-up care is important for the on-going healing of the patient. This plan should outline the steps to take while monitoring healing. It should also have plenty of details regarding any follow-up care that is necessary for full recovery. Cancer survivors may be susceptible to complications or the appearance of second bouts of cancer. Follow-up care can monitor for signs of these complications and set the path for new treatment scenarios.
The professionals who provide care for cancer patients and survivors should also be advocates for better legislation regarding the treatment of cancer and the resources available to cancer patients.
Some people have wondered whether it is possible to accurately judge the quality of cancer treatment. These individuals point to flaws in assessment methods and to complications in comparing the complexity of treating individual cases. There is some validity to these concerns.
However, as individuals describe their experiences with treatment centers, those judgments can be used by other prospective patients. As this information is shared online or firsthand and as the potential patient investigates each treatment center’s reputation based on the above qualities, important decisions can be made regarding the quality of treatment.