Innovative treatment 'just says no' to cancer in five different ways
Whole-process management and life quality-centered care have been implemented at Ruijin Hospital, the first medical institution to implement a “five no” concept in the treatment of cancer patients, its medical experts said during this week's National Cancer Prevention and Control Promotion Week.
“The whole-process management means we offer the best suitable solutions to patients in different stage of treatment. The measures are changed in line with the disease,” said Dr Zhang Jun, director of the hospital’s oncology department. “We concluded that we should rethink about our previous cancer strategies. The medical industry was too aggressive battling cancer and tried every means like surgery and large doses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to fight it, which shrank tumors but patients still died.”
“The new concept is to 'make friends' with cancer and use the most suitable treatment method. Cancer treatment is difficult, because the cancer cells spreads and evolves,” Zhang said. “Doctors should give therapies in line with different conditions for the best outcomes of the patients, whose quality of life and long-term survival are more important than terminating cancer. Giving patients the right solution at the right time is our principle.”
The “five no” concept was created by Ruijin staff. The elements of “five no” are no pain, no vomiting, no hunger, no ugliness or no anxiety.
“Pain is the fifth leading vital sign and the most serious cause of suffering for cancer patients. Using appropriate methods to help patients control pain is the top task,” Zhang said. “Vomiting is a major chemotherapy and radiotherapy side effect, so we use various measures to control it. No hunger means patients receive proper instruction on diet and nutrition.”
“No ugliness means that we cooperate with the dermatology department to help patients who experience hair loss, skin problems and pigmentation due to cancer treatments,” he said. “No anxiety is psychological support. We invite volunteers from the Shanghai Cancer Recovery Club to share their experiences with our patients and give them support.”
A patient surnamed Zhu who was diagnosed with gastric cancer two years ago said volunteers have provided strong support during treatment.
"I was so depressed and sad at first, but these volunteers who are so energetic and happy give me confidence that I can also fight cancer like they have," said Zhu.
"We are vivid examples for all cancer patients. When we told them about our survival stories, their eyes lit up and they became more positive because there is hope for them to become us in the future through proper treatment and a positive attitude," said Xu Liangen, a 75-year-old man who has survived from gastric cancer for 48 years. "We are eager and glad to share our own experiences with these cancer patients to help them get through the difficult time. They are no longer fighting cancer alone. We are a group and we fight together."
In addition to focusing on cancer treatments, Ruijin’s medical staff has been engaged in research on cancer screenings and early detection, the keys for cancer prevention and control.
“We have teamed up with medical experts from Chongming District Central Hospital and scientists from ShanghaiTech University to study a new gastric cancer screening method for those who can’t receive or don’t want gastroscopies,” Zhang said. “By drinking a plant-developed contrast agent, doctors can use ultrasound to check patients' stomachs. It is a non-invasive method. Trials in Chongming District have been carried out with good results. We will perfect the contrast agent for clinical practice.”