Recent developments in cancer treatment in Iceland
Cancer is one of the most common diseases that afflict older people in the Western world. In recent years significant progress has been made in the treatment of the disease , in this article recent policies, from the perspective of nurses are discussed.
In all likelihood, the nursing profession will assume more responsibilities in this area mostly in the form of providing more information to patients. As knowledge of genetic factors is increasing , it will be easier to give a coherent picture of the risk each and every individual faces. This should make preventing the onset of cancer more effective.
Methods of diagnosis are becoming more advanced and sophisticated and as such an early diagnoses is far more common than ever before. Diagnosis is also becoming more detailed which better enables doctors and nurses to give patients good advices. A choose of treatments is becoming more accurate and the results are getting better. The increased amount of information does though cause patients and their relatives some difficulties as it is more difficult to make decisions and understand this was amount of info available. Here nurses play and important role to inform and educate patients and their families of appropriate new treatment methods.
With increased emphasis on prevention, we can expect that treatments will be faster and more complex. Technological advances also make it easier to deal with dangerous side effect. On top of this everything seems to indicate that new methods to combat dangerous drug side effects are on the horizon. Long term treatments will probably become more common as well as supportive and symptomatic treatments which should lead to a better quality of life for patients. Evaluation of symptoms and assisting with treatment are the major tasks that nurses face. Hospitals will continue to care for seriously ill patients while outpatient facilities will be available for those who are less ill, home service should also be expected to improve with home service and hospitals working better together.
The health care system has usually been somewhat dismissive of alternative treatments, however in recent years more research on such therapies has yielded positive results on some of them, though not all. For this reason, the resistance of the medical community has somewhat decreased, this applies especially towards relaxation therapies, massage, meditation and support groups, as such treatments have been shown to help patients to cope with the psychological aspects of the disease. It is likely that such treatments will be used more as part of organized health care.
Numerous ethical questions arrise when considering treatment. Examples of such questions are when it is time to stop treatment, when it is time to limit treatments, and when it is appropriate to offer additional treatments or alternative treatments as described above. Recent policy has focused on having patients themselves take decisions in a greater degree than previously. Nurses have primary focues on giving information about the disease, treatment options and information on the rights of the patient. When it comes to decision-making a nurce is an advocate for the patient and for family members. Her role is to assess the views and values of the patient and to discuss the ethical issues that arise but also to provide care and make sure that patients can maintain their independence and self-esteem, a nurse must therefore take into full account of the views of the patient.