How Our Personal Biases Affect Our Well-Being and Patient-Centered Care
As oncology nurses, our personal biases can affect not only our own brains and cognitive functioning but also the mental health of those we interact with. We all have biases, or preconceived notions or ideas about particular people, groups, or circumstances. They frequently result from prior experiences, cultural and societal influences, and societal conditioning.
More Survivors Have Functional Limitations After Cancer
More than twice as many of today’s cancer survivors say they’re experiencing functional limitations after their disease than those in 1999, according to study findings published in JAMA Oncology. The prevalence was also nearly twice as high as that reported in the general population, but it varied by diagnosis and was disproportionately higher among Black and Hispanic survivors.
Financial Navigation During Hematologic Cancer Saves Patients and Caregivers $2,500
Individuals at risk for financial toxicity from the high costs of hematologic cancer care reported saving an average of $2,500 when guided by the services of an oncology financial navigation program, researchers reported in the Journal of Oncology Practice.
Using eHealth to Measure Patient-Reported Oral Chemotherapy Side Effects Improves Overall Outcomes. Now We Need to Standardize It.
As innovative nurses and other healthcare professionals create libraries of mobile apps and other technologies that allow patients and providers to communicate remotely about oral chemotherapy treatment, how can they be better used consistently across practices to achieve optimal patient outcomes?
U.S. Sales of E-Cigarettes Climbed Almost 50% From 2020–2022
As overall monthly unit sales of e-cigarettes increased by 46.6% from January 2020–December 2022, according to June 2023 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco cessation advocates continue to fight an uphill battle. Purchases grew from 15.5 million units to 22.7 million units in the study period.
Nurses Say That Oncology Inpatient Medical Cannabis Use Improves Symptom Management and Quality of Stay
An overwhelming majority of nurses say that terminally ill patients with cancer in California who use medical cannabis under Ryan’s Law in an inpatient setting have better symptom management and satisfaction with the quality of their stay, according to survey findings reported during the 48th Annual ONS Congress® in April 2023.
COVID-19 Mortality Risk Is Higher for Females With Cancer
Biological sex may be a factor in COVID-19–related mortality among patients with cancer, according to study findings that researchers published in JAMA Oncology. They found that female patients were nearly twice as likely to die from infections than male patients.
What Is MCED Testing?
Currently under study, multicancer early detection (MCED) tests have the potential to fill gaps in the screening process for some cancers, consequently leading to earlier diagnoses for cancers historically diagnosed at later stages because of a lack of screening options. MCED tests use various methods to detect multiple cancers from one blood sample, such as methylation-based assay, which analyzes methylation patterns in cell-free DNA. In cancer cells, hypermethylation may silence tumor suppressor genes in the early stages of cancer growth. DNA hypermethylation has become a promising biomarker for early cancer detection.
War Imagery Metaphors May Promote Strength, Resilience for Patients With Nonmetastatic Cancer
The United States has waged a war on cancer for more than 50 years, but no patient ever willingly enlists for service. Although evidence conflicts about the psychosocial implications of using war imagery terms with patients with cancer, researchers conducting a new study found that patients with nonmetastatic disease embrace using war imagery to place meaning around their diagnosis. The researchers reported their findings in Supportive Care in Cancer.
Machine-Learning Algorithm Uses Cancer Symptom Severity to Predict Patient Outcomes
Unsupervised machine learning can assign older adult patients to low, moderate, or high prediagnosis symptom severity categories, allowing healthcare providers to identify patients at risk for hospitalization or death even before initiating treatment, researchers reported in JAMA Network Open.
Transform LGBTQ+ Cancer Care With These Evidence-Based Nursing Strategies
Less than 20% of National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program practices routinely report collecting sexual orientation and gender identity data, limiting the available evidence to support recommendations for oncology nursing care of a vulnerable LGBTQ+ population that faces biases, stigma, cultural insensitivity, inequities, and disparities. In a 2022 Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing article, ONS member Georgina T. Rodgers, BSN, RN, OCN®, NE-BC, and colleagues evaluated the latest studies to identify best practices and care considerations for LGBTQ+ patients with cancer.
These Factors May Increase Cancer Screening Rates for Sexual and Gender Minority Individuals
Race, sex, education level, and healthcare coverage status all contribute to cancer screening disparities among sexual and gender minority populations, researchers reported in the March 2023 issue of the Oncology Nursing Forum.
Cultural Competence Training Promotes Safe and Inclusive LGBTQ+ Patient Care
Successfully addressing sensitive topics, such as homophobia and LGBTQ+ biases, is best achieved in small, interactive groups, clinical nurse scientists said in a quality improvement project report published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.
APRNs Develop Institutional Bladder Irrigation Guideline That Dramatically Reduces CAUTI Rates
Implementing intermittent bladder irrigation guidelines reduces catheter-associated urinary tract infection rates by more than 80%, ONS member Christine Wallace, MSN, APRN-CNS, said during a podium presentation at the 48th Annual ONS Congress® in April 2023.
Health Disparities Take a Toll on the U.S. Economy, NIH-Funded Study Finds
Racial and ethnic health disparities cost the U.S. economy $451 billion in 2018, a 41% increase from the 2014 estimate of $320 billion, according to results from a study funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, part of the National Institutes of Health. The researchers also reported that the total burden of education-related health disparities for people with less than a college degree reached $978 billion in 2018.
NIH Acting Director Shares Progress on Novel Nanoparticle for Childhood Cancer Brain Tumor
Noting the complexity of the human brain and brain tumors, Lawrence Tabak, DDS, PhD, acting director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), discussed in an April 2023 blog post the findings from a NIH-funded research that may suggest novel nanoparticles can help bypass the blood-brain barrier and deliver drugs to treat medulloblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer diagnosed in hundreds of children each year.
Interprofessional Collaboration Reduces Time to Neutropenia Antibiotic Administration
A multipronged approach that incorporates all disciplines on the interprofessional cancer care team resulted in a 34% improvement in antibiotic initiation within 30 minutes of a neutropenia diagnosis on a 24-bed blood and marrow unit, according to study findings presented at the 48th Annual ONS Congress® in April 2023.
Oncology Clinician, Researcher, Advocate—and Patient Herself—to Become Second Woman to Lead NIH
Praising her vision and leadership as a world-renowned surgical oncologist, cancer researcher, and educator, on May 15, 2023, the White House announced President Joe Biden’s nomination of Monica Bertagnolli, MD, as the next National Institutes of Health director.
Clinician Biases Leave Patients Feeling Unsupported When Electing for Flat Closure Mastectomies
Although 74%–84% of patients with breast cancer who undergo mastectomies are satisfied with their bodies and outcomes after electing to have a flat closure, 20%–35% say that they felt unsupported by their cancer care team during the process. Patients report feeling marginalized or stigmatized, not being told that flat closure is an option, and even left with excess skin against their wishes because the care team wanted to give them “future options.”
Nurse-Pharmacist Collaboration Improves HSCT Patient Outcomes
Collaborative, interprofessional care for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation recipients improves time to electrolyte repletion; reduces cardiac adverse events, oral mucositis severity, and bloodstream infections; and improves use of patient-controlled anesthesia, researchers reported in study findings presented at the 48th Annual ONS Congress® in April 2023.
NIH’s UNITE Takes Steps to Address and Eliminate Ethnic and Racial Disparities
The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH's) UNITE, a think tank that identifies and addresses structural racism in NIH and the biomedical research enterprise, began taking steps in February 2021 to address disparities across NIH and the medical community. The think tank’s actions included revising the selection process for NIH director’s awards and establishing a new program to provide additional training opportunities to employees of color, according to UNITE’s first progress report.
United States Lags Behind Other Nations in Health Care
Despite Americans spending more for health care than other high-income countries, the United States has the highest rates of death for avoidable or treatable conditions, maternal and infant mortality, and suicide, researchers reported in an analysis study published in January 2023 by the Commonwealth Fund.
Modified Chemo Drug Kills More Cancer Cells, Activates Immune Cells—and Has Fewer Toxicities
Once abandoned because of dose-limiting toxicities, a novel chemotherapy drug is showing even more promise as a modified prodrug. In study results published in Science Advances, researchers demonstrated how turning DRP-104 into a prodrug enables it to kill more tumor cells and activate CD8+ T cells with a “markedly improved tolerability profile.”
Patients With Cancer Save More Than $150 Per Visit When Using Telehealth
Between travel time and expenses, missed work hours, and other factors, cancer care visits cost patients more than just a copay. A new study quantified the financial benefits of conducting those visits via telehealth versus in person, with researchers reporting that patients saved more than $150 in expenses and three hours in travel and waiting time per visit by using telehealth. They published their findings in JAMA Network Open.
Black and Hispanic Patients Get Fewer Opioids but More Toxicology Screening for Pain at End of Life
Opioids are the recommended treatment of choice for cancer pain at the end of life according to all major guidelines, but Black and Hispanic patients are 13% and 11% less likely than their White counterparts, respectively, to obtain prescription opioids for cancer-related pain at the end of life, researchers reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
NIH Researchers Make Progress Toward a Possible HIV Vaccine
An experimental HIV vaccine increased participants’ broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) precursor B cells that enable the body to develop bnAb-producing B cells and fight HIV, researchers reported in study results published in December 2022. The progress comes more than a decade after researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Vaccine Research Center first discovered the rare class of antibodies.
Female Leaders in Science and Medicine Drive Discoveries at NIH
From supporting the studies that led to the COVID-19 vaccine to championing diversity in the National Institutes of Health itself, women are making a difference in NIH’s halls, divisions, and programs. The agency is highlighting some of its female leaders throughout Women’s History Month in March in the Record, an NIH publication. The first feature includes a board-certified pediatrician and pediatric hematologist/oncologist who shared their experiences and wisdom and offered insight into their careers in science and medicine.
RNs Need More Education About Reasonable Accommodations for Patients With Intellectual Disabilities
Nearly 60% of RNs say they have limited awareness of the concept of reasonable accommodations for patients with intellectual disabilities, researchers reported in the Journal of Advanced Nursing. They said their findings indicate a dire need for increased nursing education and training.
Four R’s and Resilience Approach Help Oncology Nurses Respond to Morally Distressing Challenges
Disparity. Inequity. Futility. Barriers. Miscommunication. Unacceptance of the inevitable. Ethical and moral challenges perpetuate throughout practice for today’s healthcare workers, particularly oncology nurses in cancer care. As those burdens build up, nurses struggle to sustain their resilience and risk developing burnout or even leaving the profession entirely.
NIH Hosts Tribute Ceremony as Anthony Fauci, MD, Bids Government Service Farewell
The United States commemorated Anthony Fauci’s, MD, retirement from government service during a tribute ceremony held at the National Institutes of Health’s campus in Maryland in December 2022. Fauci served more than 50 years in government and 38 years as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Watch Your Words to Lose the Weight Bias in Health Care
Weight bias and stigma are evident across all professionals in the health care industry, including physicians, nurses, dietitians, and mental healthcare providers, researchers reported in Nursing Clinics of North America. They said that using people-first language is critical to reducing bias and discrimination.
What the Evidence Says About Tai Chi in Cancer Care
A form of mind-body therapy, tai chi has been practiced in China for centuries and progressed around the world today. The practice combines a sequence of gentle body movements with meditation and coordinated breathing. Under traditional Chinese medicine theory and philosophy, tai chi harmonizes the vital forces of yin and yang and promotes the flow of qi (internal energy).
NIH’s All of Us Research Program Starts Returning Genetic Health-Related Results to Participants
To help historically underrepresented communities learn more about their health, the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program began returning personalized health-related DNA results to more than 155,000 participants, NIH reported in December 2022. The reports include information on whether participants have an increased risk for certain health conditions and how they might process certain medications.
New NINR Strategic Framework Guides Nurse Scientists to Solve the Nation’s ‘Pressing and Persistent Health Challenges’
The National Institute of Nursing Research established its updated research framework to support its 2022–2026 strategic plan and mission of leading “nursing research to solve pressing health challenges and inform practice and policy-optimizing health and advancing health equity.” The framework focuses on and encourages research that “informs practice and policy and improves health and quality of life for all people, their families and communities, and the society in which they live.”
Intense, Immediate Research Action in Six Key Areas Can Reduce Cancer’s Impact on All Population Segments, DCCPS Director Says
Marking her first year at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Katrina Goddard, PhD, director of the NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, outlined a foundation of future research for DCCPS, priority research areas, and the impact of research on diverse populations in a December 2022 interview.
Nurse-Led Bone Marrow Biopsy Clinics Truncate Time for Testing, Treatment
Patients with suspected hematologic cancers complete the bone marrow biopsy processes and begin treatment more than one month sooner when the procedures are shifted from interventional radiology to a dedicated, nurse-led bone marrow biopsy clinic, researchers reported in a poster presentation at the Association of VA Hematology/Oncology meeting.
Postdischarge ICI Patient Education Eliminates Hospital Readmissions
None of the patients who were admitted for an immune checkpoint inhibitor–related toxicity but received structured teaching at discharge were subsequently readmitted within 30 days, compared to nearly 50% of patients who did not receive teaching, ONS member Michelle L. Rohlfs, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, AOCNP®, reported in study findings published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.
NIH Awards Nearly $5 Million for Research Grants to Advance Precision Medicine
The National Institutes of Health, through its All of Us Research Program, announced in January 2023 research funding opportunities to expand the use of the program’s data to advance precision medicine. NIH allocated up to $4.75 million in fiscal year 2023 for the research grants.
CMS’s New Plan Improves Health Equity Data Collection
Continuing the fight toward health equity, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Office of Minority Health released a report in November 2022 on current progress and future actions to improve health equity data collection.
Nearly 25% of Patients With Cancer Are Victims of Intimate Partner Violence
Anger is a common emotion for both patients and their partners when facing cancer, but in almost a quarter of relationships, that anger turns psychologically or physically violent. According to the results of a new study published in Supportive Care in Cancer, both genders report acts of abuse from their partners during the cancer journey.
White House Proposes Policies to Enhance STEMM Ecosystem
From the workforce to the populations that the discoveries support, America’s science and technology ecosystem is in dire need of diversity and equity, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said. In December 2022, it launched an action plan to create avenues in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine for previously excluded communities.
NINR Promotes Nursing Research to Achieve Health Equity
To address and achieve equity in health care, in fall 2022 the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) began offering new funding opportunities for research studies aligned with the scientific framework outlined in the institute’s 2022–2026 strategic plan. The grants are available cyclically with three application periods per year.
Use Active Listening to Engage More Deeply in Patient Discussions
In your day-to-day conversations with patients, colleagues, or even friends and family at home, are you merely hearing what others tell you or are you actively listening to them? When we actively listen to what someone is saying, we intreat curiosity about their words and the emotions they are communicating with their tone and body language. Active listening engages a whole-person connection, whereas passive listening relies on the brain’s ability to catch the main points of a conversation.
NIH-Funded Studies Show Damaging Effects of Vaping, Smoking on Blood Vessels
Long-term use of vaping products can significantly impair the body’s blood vessel functioning, increasing a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease, researchers for two studies supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, reported in October 2022. The researchers also found that combined use of e- and regular cigarettes may increase that risk even further than use of either product alone.
New Cancer Drugs Launch at Record-High Prices
Inflating more than 50% since 2017, the annual price of newly launched cancer drugs averages $283,000 in 2022, according to a new report from the office of U.S. Representative Katie Porter (D-CA). Although new drugs for any condition are also seeing record-breaking high prices, the cost of new anticancer therapeutics is 3.7 times higher than that of non-oncology drugs.
Even During Routine Cancer Care, Financial Hardship Significantly Increases Mortality
Patients with cancer experiencing financial hardship during routine care are nearly 1.5 times more likely to die than those who aren’t, researchers reported in study findings published in JCO Oncology Practice.
OSTP Makes Federally Funded Research Easily Accessible to the Public
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy updated policy guidance in August 2022 to allow the average American easier access to publications. The new guidance applies to taxpayer-funded research studies and makes the results publicly available for free.
Arati Prabhakar Becomes First Woman and Person of Color as U.S. Presidential Advisor for Science and Technology
The U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment of Arati Prabhakar, PhD, as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and chief advisor to the president for science and technology in September 2022, making her the first woman and person of color confirmed to lead OSTP.
Micro-Organospheres Create Molecular Model of Patients’ Cancer in Just Two Weeks
Biomarker- and molecular-driven technologies such as molecular models can precisely predict how an individual’s cancer will respond to certain treatments, the pinnacle of precision oncology. However, established modeling systems such as patient-derived xenografts and patient-derived organoids require large tissue samples and take months or even a year to obtain results, barriers that have limited their application in regular practice.
What the Evidence Says About Probiotics and Cancer Immunotherapy
Growing evidence suggests that the gut microbiome, a diverse and complex mix of microorganisms and their metabolites, is closely linked to the immune system, and researchers are studying whether modulating the gut microbiome affects cancer immunotherapy treatment outcomes. In particular, probiotics—which are flora typically obtained through dietary sources such as yogurt and fermented foods or via supplemental forms—are gaining prominence as a potential strategy to modulate the gut microbiome during cancer treatment.