Laura S. Wood, RN, MSN, OCN®

Laura S. Wood, RN, MSN, OCN®

Since 2005, seven new targeted therapies have been approved for renal cell carcinoma, improving quality of life and survival for patients with the disease, says Laura S. Wood, RN, MSN, OCN®, renal cancer research coordinator at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute in Ohio. “The oncology nurse is crucial to the success of these therapies in renal cancer.”

Wood is the recipient of the 2012 ONS Clinical Lectureship Award and spoke about new treatment strategies for renal cancer on Friday, May 4, at the ONS 37th Annual Congress in New Orleans, LA, as part of that lectureship. She has cared for patients with renal cell carcinoma since 1988 and has been involved in the clinical trials that have led to the approval of the new targeted therapies for the disease.

“Prior to the availability of these targeted therapies, treatment options were extremely limited,” Wood said. “Treatment was limited to immunotherapy consisting of Interleukin-2 and off-label use of interferon, and the average survival for a patient with metastatic renal cancer was 13 months.

“Since then, a paradigm shift has occurred in the overall management of patients with renal cell carcinoma, and understanding these changes is critical to providing patients with the best opportunity to achieve success while maintaining a good quality of life.”

Wood explained that approval of the new targeted therapies, as well as advances in surgical techniques, have improved the management, quality of life, and survival for patients with renal cell carcinoma.

“The oncology nurse plays a key role in the success of these treatment strategies,” she continued, “including patient (and family) education about treatment; potential side effects and management strategies; ongoing assessment, management, and evaluation of treatment-related side effects and disease-related clinical issues; and emotional support for patients and their loved ones.”

What oncology nurses need to know to provide effective patient and family education, Wood explained, is how targeted therapies are different from chemotherapies, including mechanism of action.

“Many of the side effects seen with these therapies are based on the pathways inhibited by the drug and therefore should be anticipated. An important aspect of effective nursing care for these patients is a proactive approach based on which agent is being used.”

And Wood stressed that the new treatments affect all oncology nurses, not just those in a renal cancer subspecialty. “With the availability of these therapies, many patients are treated in community oncology practices with less experience treating this patient population, and limited experience in managing the unique side effects associated with VEGF– and mTOR-inhibiting therapies. Patients may receive radiation therapy and supportive strategies during the course of their illness, expanding their interactions with healthcare professionals.

“While we continue to search for a cure in kidney cancer, we’ve made significant progress to improve survival. Oncology nurses caring for patients with renal cancer are in a key position to have a positive impact on patients’ clinical outcomes and quality of life,” she said.

The complete recording of this and other ONS 37th Annual Congress sessions will be available by early June. Learn more or prepurchase the recordings. A total of 66.75 CNE credits can be earned through the conference recordings. ONS is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.