Universiti Teknologi Mara, Malaysia
Dr. Marfu’ah Nik Eezamuddeen graduated from University of Leicester, United Kingdom in 2007 and underwent her core medical specialist training in Warwickshire until 2011. Upon returning, she ventured into oncology and obtained her Masters in Clinical Oncology, University Malaya in 2015. She is currently the Head of Oncology Unit, University Teknologi MARA and practices both in PPPUiTM and Hospital Canselor Tuanku Mukhriz, PPUKM. She has a particular interest in head and neck, thoracic, and breast malignancies. She is an enthusiastic lecturer and had been involved in research in many areas.
Impact of Research in Supportive Care in Oncology
Over years, we have seen therapeutic advances enabling better survival in cancer patients. This progress have placed an emphasis on the dimension of supportive care in cancer. Supportive care in cancer is the prevention and management of the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment. This entity looks into the symptom management of physical, psychological and treatment toxicities across the continuum of the cancer experience: from diagnosis, through treatment, to post-treatment care.
Prevention or reduction of treatment side-effects translates into improvement in therapy tolerance and compliance, thus increasing benefits of active therapy. Nausea and vomiting, is a major symptom affecting cancer patients. It can be induced by chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or can be part of advanced cancer. The latest guidelines in antiemetic use have included the role of new NK1 receptor antagonists, rolapitant and netupitant, the latter given in combination with palonosetron (NEPA), and the use of olanzapine.
Oral complications secondary to cancer therapy, including mucositis which may affect any part of the digestive tract depending on type of cancer therapy significantly causes distress to patients and caregivers. Extensive research has been made looking into successful interventions for mucositis – anti-inflammatory agents, vitamins, photobiomodulation techniques to name a few – in hope to enable patients to tolerate complications of treatment without compromising quality of life.
Cancer-related fatigue significantly disrupts normal functioning and quality of life for a substantial portion of cancer patients, and may persist for years following cancer therapy. It is the most widespread adverse effect of cancer in adults and children. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of pharmaceutical therapies for cancer-related fatigue reveal a small effect size for all drug classes. Exercise interventions has been more promising. Exercise was found to significantly improve both quality of life and physical function in cancer patients.
There are many other aspect of supportive care in cancer that are growing in interests. Sexual health issues, survivorship and digital healthcare are among contemporary subjects with promising research potential. Alleviation of symptoms and complications of cancer and its therapy makes excellent comprehensive cancer care possible.