Anesthesia techniques extend far beyond the obvious of numbing an area to pain in order for a medical procedure to take place for the patient. From pre and post-operative care to assisting in healing long term there are a number of ways that anesthesia can benefit patients facing a number of medical concerns. There is a growing amount of research that shows regional anesthesia can have a positive impact on, not only care for cancer treatment patients, but on survival rates as well.
Considerations to Research
On one hand it can be difficult for clear correlations to be evident when speaking about cancer survival because of the sheer number of types of cancer medical practitioners are helping their communities fight every day. Different cancers can react to procedures in different ways making some of the research challenging to compare. Additionally, patients may choose alternate treatment plans and there are always new experimental drugs and methods coming onto the market posing new variables. That being said, there are a number of studies that show regional anesthesia can increase survival rates.
Advantages Over Opioids
There is growing research that cites a connection between opioid use and a proliferation of cancer cells. When opioids are used in a perioperative setting to provide pain relief for the patient, there are some types of cancers that may increase as those cells are stimulated to grow. There is also additional research that shows opioids can suppress the immune system in a number of patients. As many cancer patients use chemotherapy as part of their treatment plan, their immune system is already compromised. The additional suppression can cause further issues, leading to complications, illness, and hospitalization as their body tries to fight off other infections. Best summarized by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, “anesthetics and opioids…which can depress one’s immune system and increase the risk of tumor spread, recurrence and death.” Their study even showed a compelling link between increased survival for patients who received regional anesthesia in opposition to those who received general anesthesia during surgery, with the mean survival time increasing by 25 months.
Consistently Better Choice
While opioids may feel like a natural fit for a patient who is trying to fight a battle with cancer and has pain from treatment, surgery, or the progression of the disease, there is an alternate solution. Regional anesthesia provides more direct pain relief with less side effects and no link to long term addiction. As quality pain relief is administered to the patient, better prognosis will likely follow as the patient feels healthier, more able to pursue a healthy diet and active lifestyle, and as their overall mental health improves from feeling less pain.
While there is more to research in the field of best managing care and treatment for patients battling cancer, the appeal of using regional anesthesia for operations, post-operative care, and pain management is high. To learn more about how you can be part of the growing number of medical providers who can administer these anesthetics, contact us today. We have courses scheduled for 2022 and you can begin learning the online components as soon as you register.