Nursing Process: Approach to Cancer Care


Cancer is a dreadful disease that is a nightmare for clinicians and the public health system as a whole. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States (US), trailing only cardiovascular disease (Heron, 2018). Besides mortality, the associated physical and emotional suffering caused by cancers is even more agonizing.

Nursing Process: Approach to Cancer Care

Patients and the general public are always concerned about when a cure for cancer will be discovered. While the question may appear simple, the answer is complicated because cancer is a heterogeneous condition with multiple contributing factors. While some cancers, such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, can be cured, others, such as pancreatic cancer, are extremely lethal despite treatment (Wang et al., 2019).

The only hope for cancer control is to learn more about it, and great strides have been made in understanding the pathogenesis and molecular basis of cancer. This paper discusses cancer diagnosis and staging, cancer complications and treatment, factors contributing to yearly incidence and mortality, and the role of nursing in cancer management.

Diagnosis and Staging of Cancer


            Cancer diagnosis necessitates a solid foundation in cancer knowledge as well as some experience working with cancer patients. Clinicians should always maintain a high level of suspicion if a client exhibits characteristics that are suggestive of cancer.

As a result, taking an appropriate history and performing a comprehensive physical examination are prerequisites for making an appropriate cancer diagnosis (Jarvis et al., 2018). While the history can help rule out other diseases and point to specific cancer, a good physical examination can help a clinician elicit specific signs of cancer.

The laboratory diagnosis of cancer provides a definite method of a cancer diagnosis. Numerous laboratory studies can be performed to confirm a cancer diagnosis. The suspected tissues are obtained via biopsy and histologically examined to determine whether they are benign or malignant (Kumar et al., 2020).

Cytology is another type of laboratory diagnosis for cancerous lesions. Fine needle aspiration is a prerequisite for cytology, in which a needle is inserted through the tumor, and a mass of cells is aspirated, which is then subjected to cytologic examination.

This method is most commonly used for palpable breast lesions, thyroid, salivary glands, and lymph nodes (Kumar et al., 2020). Immunohistochemistry is a valuable supplement to histologic examination. This is a technique in which antibodies are used to detect specific antigens (markers) in a tissue sample.

On the other hand, flow cytometry is a technique that uses fluorescent antibodies against cell surface molecules and differentiation antigens to determine the phenotype of cancer cells (Kumar et al., 2020). Tumor markers such as prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which raises the possibility of prostate cancer, and carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), which is produced in cancers of the colon, pancreas, and stomach, have diagnostic value.

Recently, molecular studies have been widely used in cancer diagnosis, such as PCR detection of BCR-ABL transcripts, which is critical in diagnosing chronic myeloid leukemia.

Staging of Cancer

Cancer staging refers to determining the tumor’s apparent spread and extent. Staging is determined by the size of the primary tumor (T), the number of affected regional lymph nodes (N), and the presence or absence of metastasis (M). Staging is typically accomplished clinically, radiographically, or through surgical exploration.

For example, any patient with cervical cancer who presents with pelvic or paraaortic lymph nodes (clinical staging) is definitely in stage IIIC, and if abdominal ultrasound (radiological staging) reveals hydronephrosis, the patient is in stage IIIB. Finally, if an ovarian tumor is surgically excavated and the growth is limited to the abdominal peritoneum with positive retroperitoneal or inguinal lymph nodes, the cancer is classified as stage III.

Complications of Cancer, Side Effects of Treatment, and Methods to Lessen Physical and Psychological Suffering

            While cancer can cause complications, its treatment is also fraught with adversaries. Cachexia is one of the complications of cancer. Cachexia is characterized by a progressive loss of body fat and lean body mass, as well as profound weakness, anorexia, and anemia (Kumar et al., 2020).

Cancer cachexia is not caused by anorexia, even though cancer patients are frequently anorexic and may have poor nutrient absorption. Cancer cachexia is thought to be caused by cytokines, particularly TNF, produced by tumor cells or macrophages in response to tumor cells (Kumar et al., 2020).

Another cancer complication is paraneoplastic syndrome (PNS). PNS are symptom complexes that occur in cancer patients but cannot be explained by the tumor’s local or distant spread. Cushing syndrome, which is seen in patients with small cell lung carcinoma, pancreatic cancer, and neural tumors, is an example of PNS (Kumar et al., 2020). Another complication is the psychological stress and stigma that cancer patients face, especially those with foul-smelling tumors.

Cancer treatment is also fraught with complications. The tumor lysis syndrome is at the top of the list because it causes severe electrolyte disturbances-hyperkalemia and hypocalcemia-that predispose patients to cardiac arrhythmias and seizures (Kumar et al., 2020). Cardiotoxicity, for example, in the case of Doxorubicin, and hemorrhagic cystitis caused by Cyclophosphamide in the treatment of Burkitt’s lymphoma are two other complications (Parthasarathy et al., 2019).

The ultimate goal of cancer treatment is to alleviate the patient’s physical and emotional suffering, and various methods have been used to accomplish this. Pain management is a critical principle in cancer treatment, and a multimodal approach is usually recommended.

Most cancer pain is severe, necessitating the use of opioids or even neuralgic analgesics such as Tegretol (Money & Garber, 2018). Adequate hydration also helps alleviate some of the physical discomfort caused by anticancer medications.

For example, adequate hydration and prophylactic Allopurinol are recommended to prevent gout caused by hyperuricemia induced by cyclophosphamide in treating Burkitt’s lymphoma (Money & Garber, 2018). Finally, love and support from family, assistance with daily activities, counseling, and provision of basic needs are all necessary to prevent psychological suffering.

Factors Contributing to Yearly Incidence and Mortality Rates of Various Cancers

            Every year, 1.6 million new people are diagnosed with cancer, and over 600,000 die from it, making cancer the second leading cause of death in the United States. However, the high yearly incidence and mortality rates are attributed to preventable risk factors. Among the risk factors are smoking and second-hand smoke exposure, accounting for more than 90% of lung cancer deaths in the United States (CDC, 2022).

Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at work have a 20% to 30% increased risk of developing lung cancer (CDC, 2022). Sun exposure and tanning beds both contribute to skin cancer, particularly melanoma, the deadliest of all skin cancers (CDC, 2022). Obesity and overweight are linked to various cancers, including endometrial, breast, and colorectal cancer.

In the United States, 42% are obese, and nearly 74% are overweight or obese (CDC, 2022), contributing to the high incidence and mortality from the aforementioned cancers. Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of breast, colon, rectum, mouth, pharynx, liver, and esophageal cancer.

Around 17% of US adults report binge drinking, defined as 5 or more drinks on one occasion for men and 4 or more drinks on one occasion for women, and 6% report heavy drinking (CDC, 2022). Infectious diseases, for example, have significantly contributed to the occurrence of some cancers.

Human papillomavirus (HPV), for example, contributes to cervical and penile cancers, which is why HPV vaccines are currently administered to young girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 12 (CDC, 2022). Evidently, there are several cancer-causing factors, and the good news is that they are preventable, which is a stronghold that should be explored to reduce cancer incidences and mortality rates.

American Cancer Society Education and Support

            The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a non-profit health organization that works to eradicate cancer across the country. The ACS has a website with information on cancer prevention, screening, risks, treatment, and support. The ACS has volunteers working in more than 250 regional offices across the United States.

Volunteers are people who have survived cancer, have been diagnosed with cancer, are undergoing treatment for various types of cancer, or are simply interested in interacting with cancer patients. The volunteers are tasked with educating cancer patients on the aforementioned topics.

Furthermore, the ACS has several methods for disseminating cancer information, including brochures, handouts, flyers, and factsheets. Among the ACS services I would recommend to people are the free screening programs, through which people are screened for various cancer types, and early treatment is initiated (ACS, 2018).

Furthermore, while the government is the largest funder of cancer research, followed by other organizations such as the CDC and the National Institute of Health, the ACS also provides funding that fuels cancer research in its capacity. Cancer research is aided by funding and grants to pursue projects to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Nursing Process Utilized in the Provision of Safe and Effective Care for Cancer Patients

Nurses, who make up the majority of healthcare providers, have the most direct contact with patients. Nurses participate in all five phases of nursing, which include assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation. Although the initial assessment, which includes history taking and physical examination, is typically the responsibility of physicians, nurses also contribute by eliciting additional history, taking vital signs, and documenting (Toney-Butler & Thayer, 2022). Nurses can also assist in observing signs such as skin pigmentation that may indicate small cell lung cancer during their daily shifts.

Care coordination necessitates extensive planning, and nurses are credited for their effective orchestration and performance of nursing duties. Nurses organize admissions, nursing tasks, patient hygiene, and even follow-up. In terms of implementation, nurses have been trained to manage projects, particularly Telehealth programs for chronically ill patients (Toney-Butler & Thayer, 2022). Nurses use Telehealth programs to evaluate and follow up on patients, making phone calls, videoconferencing with them, and teaching them self-management skills.

Undergraduate Education in Liberal Arts and Science Studies and Contribution to the Foundation of Nursing Knowledge and Practice

Backgrounds in liberal arts and science studies are essential for nurses and other healthcare providers. The study and application of natural sciences, humanities, arts, and social sciences are at the heart of liberal arts and sciences education. Aside from medical and nursing knowledge that helps nurses understand disease physiology and mechanisms and determine effective nursing interventions, liberal arts, and social sciences help them relate well with patients (Ayala, 2020).

In this context, relating to patients entails understanding their perspectives, treating them with respect and dignity, communicating effectively with them in plain, unadorned, and simpler language, and involving them in decisions about their care. Since the prescription and administration of medications may necessitate dosage calculations, mathematics is a critical subject that nurses must be well versed in. All knowledge, however, is futile without the inclusion of a collaborative practice that includes all other healthcare providers.


In conclusion, cancer continues to be a nightmare for clinicians and the public health system as a whole in terms of prevention and treatment. The apparent world attributes the yearly rise in cancer incidence and mortality to various factors, including smoking, alcohol consumption, sun and tanning bed exposure, overweight, and obesity. Even though the pathogenesis and mechanisms of cancer are not completely understood, there have been satisfactory advances in molecular studies that have given hope in the diagnosis of specific cancers.

Many organizations, including the American Cancer Society, are at the forefront of alleviating the suffering of cancer patients. Even as funds and grants are directed toward cancer research centers for additional cancer studies, we can only hope that significant strides in terms of cure will have been made in another decade.


Benchmark – Nursing Process: Approach to Care Cancer Instructions

The nursing process is a tool that puts knowledge into practice. By utilizing this systematic problem-solving method, nurses can determine the health care needs of an individual and provide personalized care. Write a paper (1,750-2,000 words) on cancer and approach to care based on the utilization of the nursing process. Include the following in your paper: Describe the diagnosis and staging of cancer. Describe at least three complications of cancer, the side effects of treatment, and methods to lessen physical and psychological effects. Discuss what factors contribute to the yearly incidence and mortality rates of various cancers in Americans. Explain how the American Cancer Society (ACS) might provide education and support.

What ACS services would you recommend and why? Explain how the nursing process is utilized to provide safe and effective care for cancer patients across the life span. Your explanation should include each of the five phases and demonstrate the delivery of holistic and patient-focused care. Discuss how undergraduate education in liberal arts and science studies contributes to the foundation of nursing knowledge and prepares nurses to work with patients utilizing the nursing process. Consider mathematics, social and physical sciences, and science studies as an interdisciplinary research area.

You are required to cite to a minimum of four sources to complete this assignment. Sources must be published within the last 5 years and appropriate for the assignment criteria and relevant to nursing practice. Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center. An abstract is not required.