Post-Flooding Natural Disaster Cancer Considerations and Patient Education Points

September 28, 2022

By Stacy R. Stanifer, PhD, APRN, AOCNS®

Natural disasters present unique challenges to patients with cancer and the healthcare systems that must stand ready to keep them healthy. Exposure to floodwater places patients at risk for infectious diseases, chemical hazards, and injury (, and anything in the water’s path, including medical equipment, medications, homes, and vehicles, can be severely damaged or destroyed. Patients with cancer who are immunocompromised are a highly vulnerable post-flooding population and need special guidance.

Prepare Your Patients to Maintain Cancer Care During Flooding

The rural, southeastern Kentucky area in which I practice recently experienced a catastrophic flooding event. To help our patients maintain access to care and prevent increased risk of infection, we quickly developed a tip sheet for patients.

For future events, healthcare providers can use the tips as talking points during patient education discussions. Because of natural disasters’ unpredictability, having information and tip sheets readily on hand can help keep patients on track with treatment and safe from potential exposures.

Patient Tip Sheet: What to Do in the Event of Flooding

This article was supported by UK-CARES through Grant P30 ES026529. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIEHS.

The author thanks the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center Community Impact Office and Center for Excellence in Rural Health and ONS members Holly Chitwood, Ryne Wilson, and Milagros Elia for their input on the development of the patient tip sheet.

Copyright © 2022 by the Oncology Nursing Society. User has permission to print one copy for personal or unit-based educational use. Contact for quantity reprints.