Gina, age 9, and Rosemary, age 66. They had different cancers, but developed similar skin ulcers over their entire bodies. Gina's wounds were open to air for 4 weeks. Her pain was severe. Two weeks after starting wound care, Gina allowed us to take pictures of her wounds. We promised to teach doctors and nurses how to care for her wounds. Unfortunately, Gina died. The pictures were lost. A year later, Rosemary was admitted with a similar skin condition and allowed us to photograph the progression of her wound care. Our promise to Gina is now kept. Here we describe the wound care plan necessary to relieve the pain and discomfort of partial-thickness wounds from dermatological conditions in oncology patients.
With perhaps 100 patients scheduled for chemotherapy each day and about the same number of consultations, the nurses, physicians, and staff in any medium-sized oncology clinic are fully booked. Changing their routines may be the last thing anyone wants to think about.
Diabetes mellitus is a frequent comorbidity of cancer patients. The growing epidemic of diabetes is anticipated to have tremendous impact on health care. Diabetes may negatively impact both cancer risk and outcomes of treatment. Oncology nurses are ideally positioned to identify patients at risk for complications that arise from cancer treatment in the setting of pre-existing diabetes. Additionally, oncology nurses may be the first to identify underlying hyperglycemia/hidden diabetes in a patient undergoing cancer treatment. Strategies for assessment and treatment will be discussed, along with specific strategies for managing hyperglycemia, potential renal toxicity, and peripheral neuropathy. Guidelines for aggressive treatment of hyperglycemia to minimize risks of complications will be reviewed. The role of interdisciplinary care, utilizing current evidence, is crucial to supporting patients and their families as they manage the challenges of facing two life-limiting diseases. Whole-person assessment and individualized treatment plans are key to maximizing quality of life for patients with cancer and diabetes.
FDA-Approved Drugs: 5-HT3 receptor antagonists Zofran (ondansetron), Kytril (granisetron), Anzamet (dolasetron), Aloxi (palonosetron); NK-1 receptor antagonist: Aprepitant (Emend)
Cancer clinical trials are a necessary component of the effort to improve cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Essential to this process is the informed consent of the individuals who participate in these research studies. The purpose of this article is to describe patient, provider, and informed consent process issues with presentations of data reported in the current literature. The role of nursing in the facilitation of informed consent is discussed.
Nursing management of patients with advanced malignancies presents a formidable challenge. In addition to the discomfort and debilitation these diseases can cause, side effects of traditional treatment modalities such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation may lead to severe and sometimes fatal sequelae. New targeted therapies promise an effective treatment with more easily tolerated and managed side effects. Basic understanding of the drugs' mechanism of action contributes to the successful management of the toxicities that can be manifested. Effective patient education results in improved compliance with treatment regimens and potentially improved clinical outcomes. Nursing intervention remains a vital component in the successful use of these novel agents.
With the trend toward the use of oral rather than intravenous therapies for cancer, nonadherence to treatment has become an increasing concern. Advanced practice nurses are in a good position to assess and monitor adherence to oral endocrine therapies. Research on adherence has been limited; to date there are no specific published guidelines for ensuring adherence to endocrine regimens. However, studies have identified many factors that may lead to nonadherence, including demographic, social, and psychological characteristics of the patient; characteristics of the disease and the treatment regimen; and the nature and quality of the patient/clinician relationship. These factors provide a framework that advanced practice nurses can use to identify potential problems and to work collaboratively with patients.
Dr. Ann Berger does an excellent job of writing to the chronic pain sufferer in her book Healing Pain. Health-care providers and family caregivers will also find it an excellent resource and can benefit greatly from reading this work. Throughout the book the author maintains a true sense of hope for the individual experiencing significant pain. Her ability to communicate this sense of hope will be rather contagious for the health-care provider who may have become less than enamored with our ability to accomplish pain management in individuals with complex pain syndromes.
The high prevalence of pain in the cancer population underscores why pain management is integral to comprehensive cancer care. How well pain is controlled can have a profound effect on the cancer experience for both patient and family. The goals of pain assessment are to prevent pain if possible, and to identify pain immediately should it occur. This can be facilitated by standardized screening of all cancer patients for pain, on a routine basis, across care settings. A comprehensive assessment of pain follows if a patient reports pain that is not being adequately managed. Oncology nurses play a huge role in pain assessment and management throughout the course of a patient's disease. A basic understanding of the types of pain seen in the cancer population as well as inferred neurophysiologic pain mechanisms and temporal patterns of pain can help focus the pain assessment. This in turn will lead to targeted pain management strategies
Chemotherapy-induced febrile neutropenia (FN) predisposes patients to life-threatening infections and typically requires hospitalization. The goal was to investigate whether a risk assessment tool aligned with national guidelines could help identify patients at risk of FN and reduce FN-related hospitalizations. Beginning in October 2004, oncology nurses applied the new risk assessment tool to all patients initiating chemotherapy or a new regimen. Patients at risk for FN received prophylactic colony-stimulating factor. Charts for 189 patients receiving chemotherapy in fiscal year 2005 (FY05) were compared with charts of 155 patients receiving chemotherapy in FY04, before the tool was implemented. The incidence of FN-related hospitalization declined by 78%, from 9.7% in FY04 to 2.1% in FY05 (P = .003). Total hospital days decreased from 117 to 24. Routine systematic evaluation by oncology nurses improves recognition of patients at risk of FN and substantially reduces FN-related hospitalization.