Oncology nurses know the challenges of patient adherence to oral cancer therapies. Every dose a patient misses can affect their outcomes and chance of survival. But in clinical trials, oral adherence has even broader implications: when a study is evaluating the efficacy of a drug, it depends on study participants taking it exactly as the trial outlines.
Despite groundbreaking treatments, novel medications, fast-tracked drug approvals, and cutting-edge science, a terminal diagnosis is still a reality for many patients with cancer. Having end-of-life discussions with patients and their family members is a difficult part of oncology nursing, but it’s necessary to provide the highest quality of care and education possible. With more news reports emerging about states introducing—and passing—medical aid in dying legislation, oncology nurses will face questions about the process from patients and caregivers.
Mrs. Jones is a 66-year-old postmenopausal woman who developed left breast pain and a palpable mass. A mammogram and ultrasound showed a 4.6 cm mass with an enlarged axillary node. A core biopsy revealed invasive ductal carcinoma that is estrogen receptor positive, progesterone receptor positive, and HER2 negative. Positron-emission tomography and computed tomography scans revealed metastatic disease.
Animal-facilitated therapy (AFT) programs have been shown to promote a healing environment and reduce certain psychological symptoms for patients with a variety of diagnoses, including cancer. Its use was even recommended by the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, who wrote about the benefits of animals in patient care and recovery: “a pet is often an excellent companion for the sick, for long chronic cases especially.”
Misconceptions about radiation treatments, associated side effects, and impact on patient care still permeate medical oncology for patients and providers alike. As educators, patient advocates, and caregivers, radiation oncology nurses play a critical role in the successful treatment and support of patients with cancer.
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