Medicaid Expansion Coincides With Earlier Colon Cancer Diagnosis Rates
U.S. states that adopted the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion in January 2014 have earlier colon cancer diagnoses, enhanced access to care, and improved colon cancer surgical care than states that didn’t implement the expansion, researchers reported in Journal of the American College of Surgeons. Additionally, patients in the expansion states were more likely to have minimally invasive procedures and fewer urgent surgeries.
COVID-19 Immunity Lasts Multiple Months, NIH Study Shows
Healthcare providers are one of the most at-risk populations for contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus. However, a 2020 study of healthcare workers found that acquired immunity from an initial COVID-19 infection offers protection against reinfection for at least six months or asymptomatic infection in the rare instances where someone subsequently tested positive within six months of acquiring immunity.
Mortality Rates After Cancer Surgery Decrease, but Racial Disparities Remain
During the past 10 years, mortality rates after cancer surgery have improved by 0.12%–0.14%, depending on race, researchers reported in study findings published in JAMA Network Open. However, the gap between outcomes for Black and White patients remains, they found.
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.
How Can Oncology Nurses Reduce Isolation for Caregivers?
Social connection with others is widely considered a fundamental human need, crucial to well-being and survival. A growing body of literature is evaluating cancer caregivers’ needs, yet strategies to address loneliness, which has broadly detrimental effects on caregivers, are still in their infancy. Therefore, my goal is to identify better support strategies for caregivers as they support their loved ones with cancer.
How Can Innovation and Opportunity Guide a Career in Nursing Research?
“Nursing is at the forefront of symptom management, and nurse-designed interventions lead the way,” Gwen Wyatt, RN, PhD, FAAN, FAPOS, recipient of the 2020 ONS Distinguished Nurse Researcher Award, said in a session at the inaugural ONS BridgeTM virtual conference in September 2020. She shared lessons from her career journey and told nurses that ONS can help them get their ideas “off the drawing board.”
Adding Nivolumab to Chemo Improves Survival for Advanced Gastric Cancer
First-line therapy combining nivolumab with chemotherapy improved median overall survival rates in patients with PD-L1-expressing gastric cancer by 3.3 months in a large international, multicenter trial. The findings were reported during the 2020 European Society for Medical Oncology virtual meeting.
Genomics May Trick PARP Inhibitors to Treat More Cancers
Turning on the body’s inflammasome with epigenetic therapy may improve the efficacy of PARP inhibitors across multiple tumor types, possibly expanding the therapy’s application to new cancers, researchers reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Telegenetic Counseling Bridges Geographic Barriers and Minimizes Distress
Our 2009–2014 study, Bridging Geographic Barriers: Remote Cancer Genetics Counseling for Rural Women, also known as the REACH Project (Risk Education and Assessment for Cancer Heredity), was the first randomized, noninferiority trial of telephone-based BRCA1 and BRCA2 counseling and testing that used a population-based traceback approach to identify and counsel both rural and urban women who were at increased risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer but had not received genetic counseling or testing.
NKT Cells May Be the Next Wave of CAR Therapy
When genetically modified with a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), natural killer T (NKT) cells eliminated 50% of metastases in a patient with heavily pretreated, relapsed or refractory metastatic neuroblastoma, according to interim findings from an ongoing study that were published in Nature Medicine.
FDA Offers Guidance to Enhance Diversity in Clinical Trials
The COVID-19 coronavirus continues to smother the United States, and nationwide efforts to flatten the curve aren’t lowering cases or preventing deaths. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, MD, an oncologist by training and profession, addressed the actions needed to combat COVID-19. One in particular is ensuring that clinical trials accurately reflect diverse populations.
Aspirin’s Cancer Benefits May Not Translate to Older Adults
Healthy older adults who take daily low-dose aspirin have increased risk of being diagnosed with advanced cancers and dying from cancer, according to findings from a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Patients With Gynecologic Cancers Have Significant Fatigue After Surgery
Forty-eight percent of women with gynecologic cancers report experiencing clinically significant fatigue after surgery that may continue six months (44%) and one (39%) year later, researchers reported in study findings published in Cancer.
Research Shows That Telehealth Has the Power to Meet the Needs of Vulnerable Communities
Telehealth resources have been present in the United States for several decades. Traditionally, clinicians used telehealth to help rural populations with limited access to care. However, telehealth innovations expand beyond home care coordination. We can use technology to reach even the most remote and vulnerable patients.
We Need More Evidence to Assess Technologies for Oral Adherence
Oral anticancer agents are often expensive, and ensuring that patients have the financial means to pay for the medication is the first important step to improving adherence rates. Each health system has a group of individuals, not technology, to manage access to financial assistance. Even if they can afford the therapy, however, patients often struggle to maintain oral adherence.
Nursing Is Science First; It Just Appears Heroic
Science, our reliance on the foundations of epidemiology, and management of a public health crisis have been unprecedented discussion topics this year. We have never had a greater need to rely on data, science, and the evolving understanding of experts about the COVID-19 coronavirus and how to contend with it.
NCI Appoints New Director for Office of Cancer Survivorship
Until recently, past ONS President Deborah Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN, served as interim director of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) Office of Cancer Survivorship, a part of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences. As an oncology nurse, Mayer brought a special perspective to the office’s mission to better understand and meet the unique needs of the growing number of U.S. cancer survivors.
New NINR Director Celebrates Health Equity and Diverse Nursing Roles
Patients throughout the United States still face persistent inequities across the healthcare continuum because of social determinants of health and inequity in research, Shannon N. Zenk, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, director of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) recognized.
Study Links HPV Vaccine to Reduced Rates of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer rates have dropped more than 90% among women who received the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, according to the results of a Swedish study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Global health leaders are calling it a milestone study.
FDA Approves Nivolumab and Ipilimumab for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
On October 2, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved nivolumab in combination with ipilimumab for the first-line treatment of adults with malignant pleural mesothelioma that cannot be removed by surgery. This is the first drug regimen approved for mesothelioma in 16 years and the second FDA-approved systemic therapy for mesothelioma.
ACA Led to Higher Rates of Early Breast Cancer Diagnoses
Thanks to expanded Medicaid coverage from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), women diagnosed with breast cancer—and in particular, African American women who are more likely to experience breast cancer disparities—are getting their cancers found at earlier stages, according to researchers. The study findings were reported in JAMA Surgery.
Opioid-Related Death Rates Are Increasing, But Less So in Cancer Survivors
Although opioid-related deaths are increasing in the general U.S. population, leading to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declaring it a public health emergency, new research shows that the increase is much smaller among patients with cancer, even though opioids are used as an option for cancer-related pain. The findings were published in JAMA Oncology.
NIH Study Links Cigarette Smoking to Higher Stroke Risk in African Americans
The disproportionate adverse health impact from smoking on African Americans is striking. Although oncology nurses are well aware of tobacco’s carcinogenic effects, they also need to understand the implications for comorbid conditions they may see in smokers with cancer. A recent study, through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), confirmed that African Americans have a 2.5 times higher incident of smoking-related strokes than those who never smoke.
Investigational Maintenance Therapy Extends Survival in AML
A new drug is extending both remission and survival in adults with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), according to findings reported at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting in December 2019. The study was funded by Celgene, the drug’s manufacturer.
Research Is Needed to Better Understand Combination Immunotherapy Side Effects
Combination immunotherapy treatments are revolutionizing the way cancer care is delivered. As an ongoing evolution of care, nurses are administering different treatment modalities on a regular basis. Treatments include using multiple immunotherapy drugs in tandem, combining chemotherapy with immunotherapy, using targeted therapies with immunotherapy, and even involving radiation with immunotherapy. The move toward multiple-drug modalities will continue to change nursing practice, and nurses must have a basis of knowledge and evidence from which to work.
NIH Announces Research Strategy for COVID-19
From international guidelines to economic stimulus and legislative support, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is now global leaders’ top priority. Leading the research efforts is the National Institutes for Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). As NIAID’s director for more than 30 years, Anthony Fauci, MD is one of the few, regular faces associated with COVID-19 in the United States. On April 23, 2020, the agency announced that it will spearhead a strategic plan to research a vaccine for COVID-19.
The Evidence for Herbal Supplements for Immunity and Stress During COVID-19
As the world embarks on unprecedented research efforts to prevent and treat the COVID-19 coronavirus, patients with cancer and healthcare providers alike may be interested in using herbal products to boost their immune system or relieve anxiety and stress. However, finding accurate information is challenging: no herbs have been scientifically proven to prevent or treat COVID-19, and some may even cause harm.
NCI Cancer Research Persists Despite COVID-19 Limitations
Most of the global biomedical research community, especially those at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is consumed with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Because the U.S. federal government is under strict orders to limit its operations to only essential personnel, many of the 27 NIH institutes and centers are redirecting their efforts toward COVID-19 topics. However, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is continuing its cancer research in certain priority areas.
What the Evidence Says About Acupuncture and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia
Sleep disturbances such as insomnia are prevalent and persistent among cancer survivors and diminish quality of life. Because of adverse effects such as continued sleep difficulty, memory disturbances, and falls associated with conventional medications, many patients prefer nonpharmaceutical options to address their insomnia.
Adding MRI to Prostate Cancer Testing Improves Accuracy, NIH Study Says
Combining a traditional 12-point biopsy with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) improves the accuracy of prostate cancer diagnosis, according to findings from a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
U.S. Still Has Declining Cancer Death Rates, Latest National Report Says
Overall cancer death rates fell 1.5% on average per year from 2001–2017 in the United States for all cancer sites combined, according to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Cancer Institute (NCI), American Cancer Society, and North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.
NIDA Calls for Further Cannabis Research in Congress Testimony
Medical cannabis has been approved for use in more than 33 states, many of which have decriminalized its use as well, and a health policy wave has spread across the country through state referendums to ease the burden for legalizing cannabis for health purposes. It’s a different world than it was 30 years ago, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is frequently called to testify before Congress to address concerns and questions from lawmakers.
PCORI Reauthorization Funds Program Through 2029
Patient-centered research is vital in the effort to move the needle in cancer care, and nurse researchers rely on funding from organizations like the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to support new and ongoing studies. In December 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Further Consolidation Appropriations Act, 2020 (H.R. 1865), extending funding for PCORI through fiscal year 2029.
Research Suggests New Nurses Could Help Address the Ambulatory Staffing Issue
As use of ambulatory care settings continues to grow, so too does the demand for expertly trained nurses to staff them. Unfortunately, nurse staffing levels have struggled to meet the burgeoning need in ambulatory clinics throughout the country. Traditionally, undergraduates receive limited ambulatory-specific education in nursing school, leaving them unprepared to enter those settings after graduation. However, the nursing shortage complicates staffing issues, and we must develop programs to direct new graduate nurses into ambulatory oncology careers.
Smoking Rates Are Low, But Here’s How They Can Be Lower
Although U.S. smoking rates have hit an all-time low of 14%, 34 million American adults are still considered active smokers, according to the U.S. surgeon general’s January 2020 report on smoking cessation. It’s the first new report focused directly on smoking cessation from the surgeon general’s office in 30 years.
Cancer Death Rates See Largest-Ever Single-Year Drop
Overall U.S. cancer mortality fell 2.2% from 2016 to 2017, the largest reduction for a single year, according to the American Cancer Society’s “Cancer Statistics, 2020,” published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
HPV Vaccine Has an Indirect Benefit: Herd Immunity
As more people receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to protect themselves from strains of the virus that can cause cervical, anal, oropharyngeal, penile, vulvar, and vaginal cancers, researchers are starting to see herd immunity, where even people who haven’t received the vaccine are developing fewer oral HPV infections. The findings were published in JAMA.
Women With Diabetes Are Less Likely to Get Cancer Screenings
Modest differences may exist among women with diabetes compared to healthy controls when it comes to adhering to screening recommendations for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers, according to results of a study published in Diabetologia.
Nurses Are Central to Lung Cancer Screening Conversations
Participation in clinician and patient conversations about lung cancer screening—as well as the actual screening itself—is relatively low. According to one study, only 3.9% of screening-
eligible patients had undergone lung cancer screening. Because the screening recommendations are newer, most patients are unaware that they exist, and research highlights that only 10%–12% of the patient population has had conversations with their clinicians about it.
Study Drug Plus Immunotherapy May Offer New Treatment Option for Lung and Kidney Cancer
Pegilodecakin, an investigational, first-in-class drug currently in clinical trials, is demonstrating positive safety results and measurable responses when used in combination with pembrolizumab or nivolumab in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) or kidney cancer. The findings from the multicenter, phase IB study were published in Lancet Oncology.
FDA Approves Tazemetostat for Advanced Epithelioid Sarcoma
On January 23, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted accelerated approval to tazemetostat for adults and pediatric patients aged 16 years and older with metastatic or locally advanced epithelioid sarcoma not eligible for complete resection.
HRSA Releases National Survey on RNs
To better understand the demands and demographics of the larger RN community, the Health Resources Services Agency (HRSA) compiled data from the National Sample Survey of RNs. Released in January 2020, the report is a compendium of information and questions RNs have answered about different aspects of the life and work. The data collected since 1977 provides insight into the latest trends and future workforce projections, and HRSA uses it to help allocate workforce resources.
NCI Budget Boost; Ending Surprise Medical Billing; Supreme Court ACA Hearing
The push and pull of budget negotiations makes for great headlines, but more important is the outcome when lawmakers finally arrive at a consensus. Earlier in December, the National Institutes of Health announced a $2.6 billion overall increase in funding, including a $297 million increase to the National Cancer Institutes (NCI), for fiscal year 2020.