Whenever a patient is diagnosed with breast cancer, the first important goal is to administer the best care possible. Even though the focus initially lies in medical and surgical therapy, supportive care is equally essential to deliver optimal medical treatment.
Caregivers and families of breast cancer patients need to continually support their patients during their treatment to help the patient maximize the treatment benefits and help them cope with the best way possible the effects of breast cancer.
Breast cancer support aims to help improve the patient’s quality of life by covering different areas of supportive care like educational needs, physical or symptom control needs, psychological support, social support, rehabilitation support, spiritual support, end of life and bereavement care.
It is crucial to recognize that supportive care needs are not the same for every patient. They tend to differ as per the stage of the disease, whether early, advanced, or metastatic, the individual social and cultural context, the age of the patient, or as per the individual’s perceptions. Moreover, during the course of the disease, needs may change.
The social support aspect of cancer care is also equally crucial for the patient. It involves interaction with people dealing with the impact of breast cancer on their personal relationships or who have similar experiences.
This kind of support is crucial in helping patients cope with any arising fears or worries. Breast cancer patients are at a risk of depression and anxiety, which makes psychosocial support all the more critical.
Supportive care during and after the patient’s cancer treatment is vital and should be readily available, accessible, and affordable for all patients and their families too. However, contrary to this, most supportive care needs are not met due to the low priority in systems experiencing scarce resources.
Supportive care for breast cancer patients is as important as breast cancer awareness. Breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, is the most common cancer amongst women, except for skin cancers. The ACS had estimated that about 41,760 women would die from breast cancer last year.
Today, we have more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, including those still under treatment and those who finished treatment. With more awareness of this disease, more and more women are being screened for breast cancer.
As a woman, you should know how your breasts look and feel in order to recognize when any new changes present themselves quickly. We recommend getting regular clinical breast exams and mammograms, as they can help you detect breast cancer before you even have symptoms.
Some of the signs could be:
· Thickening or swelling of all or part of the breast
· Lump in the breast or armpit
· Localized, persistent breast pain
· Skin irritation or dimpling of breast skin
· Nipple discharge besides breast milk
· Redness, thickening, or scaliness of the breast skin or nipple
· Any change in the shape or size of the breast
What Are The Risk Factors of Breast Cancer
The main risk factors include being a woman and getting older. Other uncontrollable factors that could increase breast cancer risk include family or personal history, menstrual period history, and breast density.
Other risk factors are lifestyle-related, including hormone therapy after menopause, the use of birth control pills, drinking alcohol, having children, not being physically active, and being overweight or obese. However, having either one of these risk factors doesn’t mean that you will develop breast cancer.
To lower your risk of breast cancer, you should:
· Balance how much food you eat with high physical activity to avoid excess weight gain. When you get to a healthy weight, work to stay there.
· Ensure you’re physically active. Get at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or combine both.
· Avoid or limit your alcohol intake. The American Cancer Society recommends that they restrict their alcohol intake to one alcoholic drink a day.
Above everything else, having the support of others is a vital part of breast cancer survivorship. Taking part in a support group where patients both receive and give help will be an effective way of reducing the stress and anxiety that comes with a breast cancer diagnosis.
Luckily, it is okay to ask for support, and there are so many support groups out there who are willing to offer it to you at no cost. Breast cancer support groups are designed to get you the help you need to move forward with your life.