People often use idioms—such as “going under the knife” as a euphemism for surgery—to avoid confronting distressing situations, which is even more pronounced when it comes to life events as serious as cancer. But for many patients with cancer, undergoing a surgical procedure is key to positive outcomes, and they count on the expert clinical care and support of their surgical oncology nurses to see them through it.
A survivorship clinic allows APRNs to practice autonomously and highlights their strengths and skills, including assessing long-term toxicities, providing expert symptom management, coordinating with other disciplines, and making referrals as appropriate. Long-term toxicities from cancer treatment are disease- and treatment-specific and will be unique to each patient.
Sharon, age 40, was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma. Pathologically, her tumor was grade I, estrogen- and progesterone-receptor positive, and HER2 negative. The mass measured 0.5 cm on ultrasound. Sharon has no family history of cancer and is devastated by the diagnosis. One of her close friends recently died from metastatic breast cancer, and she is certain will have the same fate. She tells Jennifer, an RN in the breast center, that she is going home to “get her affairs in order.”
Since the first biosimilar agent was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015, patients and providers have had concerns about the implications for their care and practice, respectively. Because 6 of the 12 biosimilar drugs currently approved in the United States have indications for oncology practice, oncology nurses have a responsibility to understand the drugs’ safety and efficacy for the patients in their care.
As a direct line to the oncology team, the phone conversations between nurses and their patients can help address symptoms, foster valuable patient education, provide useful interventions, encourage side effect reporting, and identify potentially life-threatening situations. Ultimately, successful telephone triage requires a unique skill set for oncology nurses to communicate with their patients and recognize underlying issues.
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