Primary care is a vital part of cancer prevention and treatment. From preventive screenings to long-term care, primary care plays an important role in reducing the risk of developing cancer and providing quality care to those affected by the disease. Primary care providers are well-trained to diagnose and treat cancer, and they can often coordinate care with other specialists to provide comprehensive care. In this blog, we will explore the various ways in which primary care providers can help to prevent and treat cancer. We will look at the importance of preventive screenings, the role of primary care in symptom management, and the importance of patient education and supportive care.
What are the Primary Preventive Methods for Cancer?
One of the biggest roles of PCPs in cancer care is prevention. You must encourage patients to adjust their lifestyle choices to prevent cancer. Many might not take your advice initially, but stay patient and persistent. Offering suggestions on how they can modify their behaviors can also make it easier for them. If someone is overweight, you may find fun ways for them to lose weight, such as taking up dance or swimming for exercise.
Other primary cancer prevention methods are regular screenings, vaccinations, avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol, eating a healthy diet, and protecting your skin. Second-hand smoke is more dangerous than first-hand smoke. Patients must know to avoid areas where others smoke and enforce a no-smoking rule in their homes.
Early Detection and Diagnosis of Cancer
You must keep a lookout for warning signs of cancer, even if someone isn’t at high risk. When you’re feeling perplexed by a health issue that they’re experiencing, be willing to consider the unlikely. It’s also important to get regular screenings to detect any cancer signs early on.,
Warning signs may vary based on the type of cancer, but common symptoms include:
- An unexplained cough that lasts for more than two weeks
- An unexplained headache that lasts for more than two weeks
- Difficulty swallowing for more than two weeks
- Unexplained bruises
- Persistent fatigue despite getting enough sleep
- Bloating that lasts for more than two weeks
- Frequent fevers or infections
- Lasting pain
Encourage patients to keep a health journal of the symptoms that they experience. This gives them clarity over how long a symptom lasts. It can also help you make connections about what could be causing the health issues. Maybe something in their diet doesn’t agree with them.
Support Throughout the Cancer Treatment Process
Many assume they would stop seeing their primary care physician after receiving treatment from cancer care specialists. However, you should continue serving your role of primary help to handle any other health conditions they have on top of cancer.
You can also take care of their prescription refills, explain what their oncologist has told them, continue coordinating communication between them and specialists, and provide emotional support. Maintaining a positive mindset and expecting a positive outcome can help people overcome serious illnesses. You can also remind patients to stick with a healthy lifestyle to improve the odds of their cancer treatments succeeding.
Another role of PCPs in cancer treatment is informing them of financial resources to assist in covering the costs. You can suggest more affordable options, such as off-brand medications and less expensive procedures.
How can Primary Care Physicians Advocate for Their Patients in the Cancer Care System?
Primary help physicians can become cancer patient advocates because they already have medical qualifications. You would take your role a step further as an advocate. You can attend meetings with their specialist if that’s what your patient feels comfortable with.
Common duties of cancer patient advocates:
- Helping them tell their friends and family
- Assisting in researching and choosing the right specialists
- Helping with work negotiations, travel accommodations, and household maintenance arrangements
- Arranging meetings with specialists
- Helping them choose a treatment method
- Managing treatments
- Monitoring maintenance treatment and checkups during remission
- Referring to financial aid and insurance resources
- Learning about new treatment modalities
Available Resources for Information on the Latest Cancer Care Research and Treatment
You can stay up-to-date with the latest cancer care research and treatment by checking research from government agencies, universities, medical journals, and hospitals. These sources provide evidence-based information.
You can sometimes find reliable information elsewhere, but you need to exercise more caution and dig into their credentials and who is funding the research. Be more skeptical of those who are selling or promoting a cure. Sources should let you know where they’re sourcing their information or have a healthcare professional review the content for accuracy before it’s posted.
If you’re a patient who wants to learn more about cancer on your own, be cautious about other people’s journeys. Physicians will want to warn patients of this issue as well. Each person’s unique body and family history influences which treatments are best for them. What works for them might not necessarily work for you, even if you have the same type of cancer and you’re the same age, weight, and race. You still need to learn about their full medical and family history. You can bring up ideas that you come across to your primary healthcare provider and oncologist to see if they would work for you.
Understanding your cancer prevention and treatment role can help you save more patients. Most cancers can be prevented, so it’s important to avoid giving up on guiding your patients into living healthier lifestyles. You play a critical role throughout the entire process of diagnosing, treating, and monitoring recovery.