The list of pharmacologic agents used in cancer care is expanding: chemotherapy, biotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, hormonal therapy, and now biosimilars. Part of being a nurse leader is recognizing trends in cancer care, changes on the horizon, and their impact on your patients and cancer treatment options. Biosimilars represent one such trend that affects providers’ approach to care and the education that oncology nurses must provide to patients and caregivers.
John is a 62-year-old man diagnosed with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). His tumor tested positive for high PD-L1 expression, and he began pembrolizumab treatment. John presents to the clinic for his third treatment and mentions that during the past week his arms and chest have been itchy and he has noticed a red, bumpy rash on his chest. When assessing John’s skin, you note a maculopapular rash on both of his upper extremities, anterior chest, and upper abdomen. What would you do?
Because of immunosuppression from cancer or its treatment, patients are at a higher risk for viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. Patients who develop infections may experience dose delays or reductions that compromise optimal treatment outcomes, resulting in higher mortality rates, longer hospitalizations, and higher cost of care.
Focusing on a patient’s quality of life is often a key component to their successful cancer journey. Treating their disease is crucial, but patients have to be recognized as individuals with unique and varying needs. Addressing their emotional, physical, spiritual, and psychosocial stressors can help provide holistic treatment that’s at the heart of successful oncology care.
Patients’ weight and nutrition status will often vary throughout the cancer care continuum. Weight loss might occur before the diagnosis, be one of the presenting cancer symptoms, be related to the tumor itself, or be secondary to side effects of their treatment (e.g., anorexia from chemotherapy or radiation).