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Quality of Life

Life, as a concept taught to a child, pertains to anything that can breathe, reproduce, grow, excrete, react to stimuli, and perhaps move. For all these activities, food is a fundamental requirement. Religion and philosophy would include social ties, consciousness, happiness, ethics and morality in their definitions of life. While the pursuit of well-being is a goal for all religion, philosophy and science, for a cancer patient, life is all about nutrition and maintaining quality of life.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, quality of life is the standard of health, comfort, and happiness experienced by an individual or group.’ One must note that is defined in terms of health and happiness, and not wealth. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines quality of life as “an individual's perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns. The Wong Baker face scale that measures pain adds the concept of time to this definition, stressing that quality of life applies ‘at a precise moment of time'.8 In other words, quality of life can mean happiness, that is, the subjective state of the mind rather than the 'standard of living?

A number of different conditions affect one's quality of life, including objective aspects like social, environmental and economic factors, as well as subjective perceptions dependent upon the individual's needs and priorities. These components vary from country to country and from urban to rural areas. The factors are individualistic and depend on what is the baseline or the happiness requirement specific for each person. Measuring the parameters of quality of life may be difficult, as it influences individuals differently. In some cases, a situation like the loss of a job or a setback handle it better.

in business may have a profound impact, while others may From the healthcare perspective, there are many variables affecting quality of life, but they are difficult to define clearly. The most common ones often include physical health, psychological state, and life satisfaction. The latter means that not just the absence of disease, but the presence of physical, mental and social well-being, fulfilment of personal expectations and acceptance of the existing situation—all are integral to quality of life. These may develop over time, permitting the patient to work towards making the best of a difficult situation. The realization that, even though many activities are restricted but the requirements for happiness are still achievable, is a huge boost to morale. Subjective well-being depends upon one's perception at two separate points in time—with and without the disease.

While the longevity of human life has increased due to advancement in medical science, our attention should always be focused on the quality of life. For the medical profession, quality of life has different connotations related to life and living. In any chronic illness, where the patient may eventually get incapacitated, the quality of life is an important index of their general well-being. The essential ingredients of quality of life are the standards of health, comfort and happiness. Basic medical care places considerable emphasis on the patient's ability to enjoy normal-life activities. Though, it is primarily dependent on the subjective evaluation of the positive and negative aspects of life in general, it is an essential concept in health. Some diseases and forms of treatments can impair the quality of life, but as long as the individuals achieve their personal goals, hopes and aspirations, it may be considered reasonable.

When it comes to cancer care and research, quality of life is an important consideration. Illness-related factors may affect the quality of life in cancer patients. Such patients experience a wide variety of symptoms and side-effects; inadequate management of these can hamper the patient's daily activities, while treatment can relieve suffering. The symptoms may have varied results: subtle and inconsequential for some, while for others they may be pronounced. For cancer patients, the level of distress experienced by the individual directly affects their quality of life. In many cases, as in breast cancer treatment, questionnaires are routinely used to assess quality of life during treatment. 10 Quality of life is now also being used as an outcome measure in studies to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments like chemotherapy when there is progression of the disease.

It has become an important end point for treatment. It can even be said that poor quality of life is an early indicator of disease progression. Therefore, the treating doctor and caregivers need to have an understanding of how the disease affects an individual, and how to guide them through these situations. Taking into account the patient's quality of life improves the relationship between them and the patients, resulting in more comprehensive healthcare.