May is Oncology Nursing Month, which means that it’s the perfect time to recognize the hard work of oncology nurses. Oncology nurses spend time with patients throughout the entire process: from explaining a new diagnosis, guiding patients through what to expect with treatment, and sharing in victories or providing compassion during dark times.
The field of oncology has certainly changed over the years, with one of the biggest evolutions being the rise of targeted/personalized treatments. In addition, oncology medications have generally moved out of the hospital setting – with many treatments now given orally, infused, or injected. Increasingly, patients are able to treat at home. However, this does not mean that care touch points are no longer needed.
In some ways, the role of the oncology nurse has become even more crucial in training and supporting patients during treatment, particularly for oncology medications that come with distinct and difficult to manage toxicities, requiring careful management by a care team. A leading cause of non-adherence with oral cancer medications is adverse effects. Access to oncology nurses and other support team members with special training in this area helps patients work through this challenge and be more likely to stay on therapy, which in turn is a huge factor in better outcomes.
With the support of an oncology nurse on the care team, patients do better during treatment. So our hat’s off to oncology nurses, as we celebrate their special role!