A cancer diagnosis is scary, and understanding the treatments can be confusing. Responding proactively after a cancer diagnosis is critical because it comes with changes that affect patients and their families.
Taking the time to prepare can help cancer patients better understand and navigate the complexities of the journey ahead effectively. Here’s a simplified five-step guide from the UAMS Baptist Health Cancer Clinic experts for patients recently diagnosed with cancer:
1. Take Time to Cope
A cancer diagnosis often causes a range of emotions, including fear, anxiety and sadness. Cancer patients can seek support from family, friends, support groups, or counselors who can make coping with these emotions more manageable. Having a strong network can provide emotional support for sharing feelings and concerns.
Patients should also focus on maintaining their overall well-being. Eating a balanced diet, staying active if possible, getting adequate sleep, and managing stress can help achieve the lifestyle adjustments needed before and after any patient starts a treatment plan.
2. Talk Openly with Your Doctor About Diagnosis
Understanding a diagnosis, treatment options, and potential side effects empowers cancer patients to make informed decisions about their health care. UAMS Baptist Health Cancer Clinic recommends patients seek clarity with their oncologist about the type of cancer, its stage and essential details. Patients will also need to schedule appointments with oncologists and other specialists to discuss various treatment options and understand how often they should visit a provider.
3. Learn About Your Choices and Make Treatment Decisions
When it comes to cancer care, there are different treatment options available. The treatment will vary depending on the type, cancer stage and the patient’s preference. These are the common cancer treatment options:
- Surgery: This cancer treatment is commonly the first-line treatment and involves surgical removal of localized tumors that haven’t spread to other body parts.
- Radiation Therapy: A high-energy ray treatment, this treatment targets and destroys cells. Radiation Therapy can be combined with surgery and chemotherapy.
- Chemotherapy: This systematic treatment involves using drugs to inhibit growth or kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is used for cancers that have spread or have the risk of spreading to other body parts.
- Clinical Trials: This cancer treatment is an option for testing innovative treatments and therapies that are not widely available. To improve patients’ health, UAMS Baptist Cancer Clinic offers cancer patients the opportunity to participate in clinical trials and access new experimental procedures and drugs. Talk to your provider to know if you are eligible for clinical trials.
- Proton Therapy: The most advanced radiation therapy available today, proton radiation therapy, is a distinctive procedure because the radiation energy is released directly to the cancerous tumor, reducing healthy tissue exposure to radiation and minimizing side effects. This type of treatment destroys cancer cells with protons instead of photons, commonly used in X-rays.
Proton therapy is particularly effective in treating solid cancer tumors, including tumors of the brain, spine, head and neck, lung, prostate, colon and some breast tumors. It is widely used to treat children with cancer, as they are susceptible to radiation therapy’s effects.
Proton Center of Arkansas
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Arkansas Children’s, Baptist Health and Proton International (PI) bring the first Proton Center to Arkansas. The Proton Treatment Center is the first in Arkansas and one of only about 40 in the country, located at the UAMS Radiation Oncology Center. Learn more about the Proton Center of Arkansas.
In addition to the Proton Center of Arkansas, UAMS and Baptist Health also offer access to state-of-the-art cancer treatments with the latest technology at the following locations:
For more information on the cancer care services offered at Baptist Health Fort Smith, visit baptisthealth.com/strongertogether/
4. Health Monitoring
Cancer patients must keep their health care team informed about their treatment progress, any side effects they may be experiencing, and any concerns they may have. This will ensure that patients receive the best possible care for their cancer treatment based on the type of treatment they choose.
5. Support Services Available for You
It is important to take advantage of the available support services to manage any side effects and enhance your overall well-being during your cancer treatment. Baptist Health can guide and support cancer patients with a range of supportive care services, including: