Oncology is a complex field with new challenges every day, and it can be challenging to keep up with the latest developments in oncology practice. These days, the trend has turned towards personalized medicine for cancer treatment: taking into account individual genetic makeup & other factors when examining prognosis and providing tailored treatments based on those findings.
Cancer is an awful disease. At the same time, it isn’t easy to explain to a patient why they may have cancer. Since cancer is so complex, it is even more complicated to devise appropriate treatment routes for it. Oncologists are working tirelessly every day, attending to their cancer-ridden patients. What makes the process disappointing is losing the patient during the process.
It makes a patient progressively worse. What’s even worse is the side effects of the medicines. Patients need to survive. All of these aspects make it difficult for oncologists to do their job. It is not easy working with a disease that is so risky that it claims your life almost right away. If you wish to understand the challenges of oncology practice further. Here’s what you need to know:
- Compiling Information
Cancer is not like other diseases. You don’t pop a few pills and get better. There is an extensive treatment route that goes into the process. However, before the patient can know about possible treatment routes, they need to know what cancer they have. For example, if the patient is battling mesothelioma, they need the relevant information. Different types of cancers need additional information, so getting all the resources right away isn’t easy. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer with a narrow treatment route. However, patients and their family members may visit mesotheliomahope.com to understand and get all the possible help they can.
- The Cost Of The Treatment
One of the biggest reasons why so many patients refuse treatment is the cost. The cost is not cheap. It can quickly put a dent in someone’s life savings. Insurance is not enough to take care of the costs. Oncologists may meet with the board of directors to discuss limiting costs. However, the process is not that straightforward. Many aspects make cancer treatment expensive, including the medicine alone. Unless the issue of costs gets addressed, more and more people will refuse treatment. For the oncology department, refusal of cancer treatment doesn’t spell well.
- Trying To Build A Relationship With Patients
Patients put immense hope and faith in their doctor. It is challenging to build a relationship on shaky grounds. Patients want fast and safe results. They want their doctor to assure them that the treatment will help their loved ones. The same thought process is in the patient’s family. Relatives accompanying the patient may pin an oncologist on the spot. Oncologists, however, cannot guarantee results. An oncologist can only go with stats and figures. In addition, they can only work with what they see. If cancer has already progressed, it is difficult to contain it. Therefore, maintaining a steady relationship can become difficult.
- Lack of Emotional Support
Oncologists go day to day without any emotional support. Their work is not easy. They have to watch their patients struggle to live, while they may even get unsolicited comments about their work. They are mostly on their feet most of the day, and the lack of rest takes a toll on them. Oncologists may begin showing signs of fatigue and exhaustion. They also don’t get to spend much time with their families. Such laborious work can bring down an oncologist’s emotional health. They may struggle to cope and can even collapse under the weight of responsibilities. All of these factors make it one of the most challenging professions to practice.
- Pressure To Start Clinical Trials
Oncologists don’t get to pick their timelines. The hospital’s administration picks it for them. When new cancer drugs are still in laboratories, there is pressure to start working on them. Pressure infers finding patients who are willing to test the drugs. That itself is not easy. Most patients are skeptical of their doctors and in-trial drugs. Convincing them to try medication that is still not mainstream practice is not easy. However, oncologists have a limited window to bargain. They are under stress from the hospital board to make swift decisions. If these decisions do not get made, it can put an oncologist in a difficult spot.
- Convincing Patients For Additional Tests
Cancer may require additional testing for patients that could mean extra bucks on their insurance. Therefore, it is not unusual for them to refuse treatment. While patients are allowed to say no, it makes treating cancer harder. A doctor needs to be sure about their diagnosis. Many symptoms of different diseases similarly present themselves. If a doctor cannot narrow probable cause, they can misdiagnose. Knowing you have cancer is not enough. A doctor also needs to know, location and even the size of the tumor. For example, if it is near the kidneys, how close to the kidneys, and in the kidney. Therefore those additional scans and tests are necessary.
- Liable To Lawsuits
Oncologists can get highly susceptible to lawsuits. The rate of helping patients survive is low. The more rare cancer, the harder it is to administer treatment. Oncologists are not sued for medical malpractice as they get sued for negligence and even failure to diagnose. Lawsuits are expensive. It is tedious to gear up and prepare for your trial. The hospital’s board also doesn’t view cases favorably. They are time-consuming, even if they don’t dent the hospital’s image. Oncologists also get stressed under the burden of going to court every other day. If they don’t make an appearance, it is also exhausting hearing about the trails they have to face.
- Ethical Concerns While Administering Care
Many ethical concerns bother oncologists as they treat a patient. The first and foremost job of any doctor is to ease fears. They may need to withhold certain information to convince a patient to accept treatment. Their other concerns may also include administering sedatives and how much. Some patients refuse food while they’re in treatment. Oncologists struggle with the dilemma of removing their consent and force-feeding them. There are also concerns about administering pain medication.
The patient needs high-dose painkillers such as Vicodin to help patients. However, prescription painkillers can become addictive. The question then arises if doctors are contributing to the addiction problem in society. The final and most grievous concern doctors have is assisted death. Many cancer patients have no will living a compromised lifestyle. They would rather die than try to get back on their feet. The process of taking consent to euthanize a patient is not easy. The board needs to review the case. Families need to get informed, and then a decision is passed.
Cancer treatment is a tedious process. While it is difficult for patients to come to terms with their condition, it is also difficult for doctors. It is not easy to explain the extent of cancer to patients. Patients retaliate, refuse treatment, or argue with their doctor. Even if a patient agrees to treatment, there is still a risk the patient may pass. All these factors, including the cost of treatment, turn patients away.
Oncologists are also under numerous external stresses. They have long working hours, need to do clinical trials, and face lawsuits altogether. They may also struggle convincing patients for further tests. One of the most challenging aspects of their work is juggling ethical concerns. It is not easy to pass decisions that may externally get seen as violations of human rights.