Understanding the Evolving Treatment of Breast Cancer

MADELAINE KUIPER, MSN, RN | August 30, 2019

Treatment for patients with breast cancer is changing, and as this shift to more targeted therapies occurs, oncology nurses need to think about treating their patients differently. At the 3rd Annual School of Nursing Oncology, Oncology Nursing News had the chance to discuss with Madelaine Kuiper, MSN, RN, nurse practitioner at UCLA Santa Monica Hematology/Oncology Breast Program, what nurses need to know about how to treat breast cancer now.


I think a focus that I'm really trying to teach nurses that are looking after breast cancer patients or coming in contact with is not to think of breast cancer as traditionally being treated with chemotherapy, but what are the biomarkers. How do these diseases work, how can we target those, and best use those treatment options? But again, talking about the essentials of oncology, or particularly in breast oncology … where we're heading with a lot of our drugs requires a lot of bringing it through more oral drugs, so how do we improve compliance with oral drugs?

If we're expecting our patients to take them, how do we know that they're taking them safely and adequately so that they get the full potential from the therapeutic benefits from these drugs? How can we facilitate that to [not only] improve compliance, but [also] to improve their responses to therapy, and really to maximize that length of therapy that we can get. Unfortunately, in the metastatic setting, it's not a curable disease but [patients] can live well with a good quality of life for a long period of time, but we need to utilize these drugs carefully. 

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