The Case of the Missing Oral Mucositis
Bob is a 68-year-old patient with early-stage cancer of the glottic larynx (right true vocal cord). He is receiving a hypofractionated three-dimensional conformal therapy without concurrent chemotherapy, 225 cGy each day for five days a week to a total dose of 6,075 cGy. He is now in his fourth week of treatment at 4,000 cGy and experiencing side effects. His voice is a high-pitched whisper and talking requires a lot of effort. He reports pain when swallowing his favorite foods like nachos and has lost 2 kg since his last weight check four days ago. Bob also reports some dizziness with position changes, and his pulse and blood pressure screenings show that he’s mildly orthostatic.
How to Handle Even the Worst Radiation Therapy Side Effects
Some of the most painful side effects of cancer and its treatment occur with radiation therapy. Although patients may find the effects emotionally devastating, nurses can help take a proactive management approach by preparing patients for what’s ahead. Annette Quinn, RN, MSN, from the University of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center, outlined the most common but distressing side effects and tips for managing them during a session held on April 29, 2021, for the 46th Annual ONS Congress™.
The Horizon Looks Promising for Emerging Radiation Therapies in Oncology Care
Cutting-edge advancements in radiation therapy (RT) may allow oncology practitioners to only target the current tumor and avoid damaging healthy tissue. During a session on April 29, 2021, at the ONS 46th Annual Congress, W. Neil Duggar, PhD, DABR, of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, provided an overview of RT from a medical physics perspective, with a focus on how developing technologies may revolutionize care for patients with cancer.
Radiation Oncology Nurses Must Innovate and Transform in Today’s Workplace
In a highly technical environment, radiation oncology nurses’ role on the interprofessional team is both critical and flourishing. But it’s also ever-evolving, speakers explained during a session on April 27, 2021, for the 46th Annual ONS Congress™.
Radiopharmaceuticals Pack a One-Two Punch Against Cancer
Radionuclides, also called radioisotopes, are unstable chemical elements that release radiation as they break down, and that action can be combined with cancer drugs to fight tumors with a new punch. During a session on April 27, 2021, for the 46th Annual ONS Congress, Pam Grubbs, APRN, CNS, MS, AOCNS®, of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, discussed how oncology is using radiopharmaceuticals in a variety of ways.
Targeted Radiation Reduces Pain From Spine Metastasis
Palliative radiation targeted directly to the tumor with stereotactic body radiation therapy eliminated metastatic pain in 33% of patients for six months compared to 16% with standard radiation therapy. Researchers reported the study findings at the American Society for Radiation Oncology annual meeting.
The Case of Concurrent Therapy Concerns
Sharon is a 60-year-old woman with metastatic breast cancer that was originally diagnosed in 2005 and treated with a mastectomy, deep inferior epigastric artery perforator flap reconstruction, chemotherapy, post mastectomy radiation, and five years of tamoxifen. Three months ago, her breast cancer recurred, and staging scans demonstrated metastatic disease in the lungs, left axilla, liver, and left iliac bone. A biopsy of the left iliac bone was ER positive, PR negative, and HER2 negative. Sharon began treatment with radiation to the painful left hip and letrozole, with the plan to start palbociclib once radiation was completed.
Radiation Clinical Trials Must Evolve to Include Patient-Reported Outcomes
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers treated with radiotherapy (RT). Conventional RT for low-risk patients usually involves 40–45 treatments given over eight or nine weeks. Several studies suggest that hypofractionated RT—fewer treatments but with a higher dose per treatment—may produce a similar survival benefit. When two treatments have similar survival outcomes, the decision process looks at symptom profiles, quality of life, and cost.
It’s Time to Take a New Look at Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy (RT) has been used as a safe and effective treatment option for patients with cancer for more than a century. Like any cancer therapy, it does carry risks and side effects, but RT has improved drastically over the past 20 years and has even been shown to enhance the effectiveness of immunotherapy.
New Treatments in Radiation Oncology
Included in the treatment plan for approximately 50% of all patients with cancer, radiotherapy (RT) is a significant component of cancer care. RT is a technology-driven oncology modality, which means it has continually evolved since being introduced in cancer care in the early 20th century.
What Oncology Nurses Should Know About Medical Physicists in Radiation Oncology
As many as 50% of patients with cancer receive treatment with radiation therapy with the goal of cure or reducing pain and other symptoms. During a presentation at the inaugural ONS Bridge™ virtual conference, Sotiri Stathakis, PhD, DABR, offered nurses insights into the field from the perspective of a medical physicist.
Advanced Practice Providers Serve a New Role in Radiation Oncology
No matter the subspecialty, advanced practice RNs have a significant role in patient treatment and care, but little data exist about their role in radiation oncology. During a presentation at the inaugural ONS Bridge virtual conference, Lorraine Drapek, DNP, FNP-BC, AOCNP®, of Massachusetts General Hospital, and Katie Bukolt, MSN, APRN, NP-C, AOCNP®, of Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center, discussed the nuances of advanced practice in radiation therapy settings.
Pelvic Radiation May Decrease Bone Mineral Density
Women receiving pelvic radiation therapy for gynecologic cancers are at higher risk for significant decreases in bone mineral density (BMD), with 7.8% of women in the study diagnosed with a pelvic fracture, according to findings from a study published in Cancer.
Harnessing the Abscopal Effect May Change Cancer Care
The abscopal effect is a unique phenomenon in cancer treatment that occurs when radiation shrinks untreated tumors found elsewhere in the body in addition to the targeted tumor. The effect has a long history, dating back to the 1950s, but it doesn’t commonly occur in practice and the mechanisms are not fully understood. Research has shown that combining immunotherapy with radiation increases the rate at which the abscopal effect occurs. Understanding how it appears in practice could potentially lead to new cancer treatments and a novel approach to combining immunotherapies with radiation.
Genomic Classifier Predicts Breast Cancer Radiation Benefit, Recurrence Risk
The Adjuvant Radiotherapy Intensification Classifier (ARTIC) predicts which women with early-stage breast cancer will benefit the most from radiotherapy, as well as their risk for locoregional recurrence after radiation, researchers reported in study findings published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Social Disparities in Radiation Therapy
Global radiation oncology research has seen an increased commitment to addressing disparities in the world and at home. The more radiation oncology proves and improves itself as a therapeutic modality, the more we are faced with the reality that the odds for survival are related to geography, poverty, education, and race.
Safety Is Key in Use of Radiopharmaceuticals
Radiopharmaceuticals, or radioactive drugs, are playing an increasing role in cancer diagnosis and treatment and thus are an increasingly relevant area of practice for oncology nurses, Paul Searfoss, BS, CNMT, ARRT (N, CT), of Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, TN, said during a session on Saturday, April 13, 2019, at the ONS 44th Annual Congress in Anaheim, CA.
Combining Radiation With Immunotherapy May Improve Survival
Combining radiation with immunotherapy can enhance the immune system’s ability to fight cancer, and evidence now suggests that this synergy may lead to improved patient survival, Annette E. Quinn, RN, MSN, of the University of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center, said during a session on Thursday, April 11, 2019, at the ONS 44th Annual Congress in Anaheim, CA.
Patient Comfort Is Key to Managing Radiation Side Effects
Radiation therapy may cause traumatic side effects in patients with cancer, yet many standard management strategies lack strong evidence. During their session at the ONS 44th Annual Congress in Anaheim, CA, Renata Benc, RN, BA, MSc(A), CON(C), of Jewish General Hospital of the Integrated Health and Social Services University Network for West-Central Montréal in Quebec, Canada, and John Hillson, RN, BSN, BA, OCN®, of Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, NC, instructed nurses on how to support patients undergoing radiation treatment.
Education and Support Are Vital for Patients Undergoing Radiation Therapy
Oncology nurses are a vital source of education and support for patients undergoing radiation therapy, enabling patients to complete therapy and minimize side effects, Richard L.S. Jennelle, MD, of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, said during a session on Thursday, April 11, 2019, at the ONS 44th Annual Congress in Anaheim, CA.
Shorter EBRT for Early Prostate Cancer Has Similar Outcomes
Patients receiving hypofractionated external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) for early-stage prostate cancer experienced similar outcomes and toxicities as those receiving standard radiation at lower doses over a longer period of time, the American Society for Radiation Oncology, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and American Urological Association say in a new clinical guideline.
How Do Nurse Practitioners Support Patients With Cancer During Radiation?
Nurse practitioners provide quality and value in radiation oncology clinics. By managing the effects of radiation during and after treatment, as well as following patients into survivorship, nurse practitioners are continually improving the quality of care that patients receive during and following treatment.
The Intersection of Radiation and Medical Oncology Nursing
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.
Get an Overview of Radiation Therapy for Cancer
Radiation therapy is a precise cancer treatment that targets tumor cells specifically and spares healthy surrounding tissues. Contrary to pharmacologic treatment methodologies, side effects are predominantly site-specific.
Multidisciplinary Approach Is Useful for Radiation Safety Training
Tara Tatum, MBA, RN, and Stella Dike, MSN, RN, OCN®, both from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, presented the findings during a poster session at the ONS 42nd Annual Congress in Denver, CO. The poster was titled “Radiation Safety Education: An Innovative, Multidisciplinary Approach to Enhancing the Knowledge and Skills of Oncology Nurses in an Inpatient Radiation Setting.”