Oncology Nursing Society Issues a Call to Action for Using Appropriate Genomics Terminology for Safety and Quality

December 09, 2021

PITTSBURGH, PA—December 7, 2021—The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) is calling all oncology nurses to become fluent in the ONS Genomics Taxonomy terms and to use them in their practice. Using consistent and correct genomics terminology minimizes confusion and misconceptions and contributes to the high quality and safe delivery of cancer care.

The taxonomy is a foundation for terminology referenced and represented across ONS’s resources. The ONS Genomics Advisory Board is evolving and expanding the taxonomy with the growing evidence base so it reflects shifts in genomics terminology according to the latest scientific evidence and advancements in testing technologies. It also aligns the terms with other leading scientific organizations.

“Misunderstanding and incorrect use of terms can result in patient harm,” Patricia Friend, PhD, APRN-CNS, AOCNS®, AGN-BC, associate professor and program director in the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing at Loyola University Chicago in Illinois, said.

“An example is how misuse of the term ‘mutation’ has resulted in the interpretation that all mutations are detrimental, which is not accurate and can result in physical and psychological harm,” Kathleen Calzone, PhD, RN, AGN-BC, FAAN, research geneticist for the Center for Cancer Research, Genetics Branch, at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD, said.

ONS urges oncology nurses to shift their terms from mutation to variant, to clarify the use of biomarkers and biomarker testing, and to use the other identified genomics terms consistently and correctly to improve patient care. The entire glossary is available at the complete ONS Genomics Taxonomy resource.

ONS is a professional association that represents 100,000 nurses and is the professional home to more than 35,000 members. ONS is committed to promoting excellence in oncology nursing and the transformation of cancer care. Since 1975, ONS has provided a professional community for oncology nurses, developed evidence-based education programs and treatment information, and advocated for patient care, all in an effort to improve quality of life and outcomes for patients with cancer and their families. Learn more at ons.org 


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