By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Public Affairs Director

NIH Devotes Funding to Precision Research for Childhood Cancer

Cancer treatments aren’t one-size-fits-all, and they differ greatly depending on age.  As the leading cause of disease-related death for children, pediatric cancers pose a critical threat to this population. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one reason pediatric cancer mortality rates persist is because there’s “limited knowledge” related to the biological mechanisms affecting childhood cancers. NIH-funded studies are breaking ground and uncovering new information about the genomics of pediatric cancers.

Identifying and researching this missing information is vital to developing successful targeted therapies for treatment. The NIH plans to devote more resources to researching childhood cancers and the biology associated with them. With new budget proposals circulating in Washington, ONS will continue to encourage Congress to fund NIH-run studies at the appropriate levels.

Will Congress Lift Medicaid Ban to Address Opioid Epidemic?

Health policy advocates, state governors, and medical professionals are currently lobbying members of the House of Representatives to lift a rule preventing Medicaid from paying for addiction recovery and rehabilitation by restricting access to treatment facilities with more than 16 beds. As with any change to Medicaid, there’s always the question of cost. Some experts estimate it could increase Medicaid spending by as much as tens of billions of dollars. However, releasing funds to address addiction and abuse—most notably for the opioid epidemic—could potentially save thousands of lives and be a path to addressing the national problem. Ultimately, lawmakers will have to decide if it will work and at what capacity they would be willing to change the Medicaid rule.

The opioid epidemic continues to affect Americans. However, it has been one issue to receive bipartisan support in a heavily polarized political environment. ONS continues to work with lawmakers and representatives to educate them on the importance of appropriate pain management for patients with cancer. Oncology nurses are in the unique position to advocate for responsible policies that support proper pain management medication for their patients with cancer without limiting access to those who need it most. Share your expertise and join the ONS advocacy effort.

FDA Approved At-Home Breast Cancer Gene Test May Impact Oncology Nurses

What was once only available through healthcare providers is now available as a consumer product. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first BRCA gene mutation test for at-home use. Through a saliva sample, the test can report women are at increased risk for breast or ovarian cancer and if men are at increased risk for developing breast or prostate cancer. However, the test only detects three out of more than 1,000 know BRCA mutations. A negative result will not rule out the possibility of other potential mutations.  

Providers may see a bump in self-reporting for these mutations, which could lead to potentially panicked patients. Nurses and healthcare providers can take this opportunity to educate their patients about the importance of prevention, early detection, and screening resources available to them. Helping patients and caregivers understand the importance of prevention and the intricacies of cancer genetics can help alleviate potential concerns.