Oncology Nurses Who Proactively Manage CAR T-Cell Therapy-Related AEs Can Ensure Their Patients Remain on Treatment

Proper training can help oncology nurses act as intensivists and quickly identify if their patients are experiencing any CAR T-cell therapy-related adverse events.

Oncology nurses need adequate training to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of CAR T-cell therapy-related adverse events (AEs) to ensure their patients can remain on their treatment, according to Kelly L. Garvin, BSN, RN, OCN.

Garvin, of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, recently spoke with Oncology Nursing News® and offered insight into how nurses could proactively help their patients manage CAR T-cell therapy-related AEs. Garvin recently presented on the topic at the 5th Annual School of Nursing Oncology.

Nurses who support patients receiving CAR T-cell treatments, Garvin noted, are specially trained to operate similarly to intensivists, which means they can float between the intensive care floor and the CAR T floor, while nurses from Med-Surg cannot. In addition, nurses who work with patients receiving CAR T treatments need to be able to recognize the early signs of cytokine release syndrome (CRS), neurotoxicity, and ICANS, before the symptoms begin to progress.

Garvin also noted that nurses should take their patients’ vital signs more often and perform other tasks to be quickly alerted if a patient is experiencing CAR T-cell therapy-related AEs.

“So, instead of once-a-shift, we (take vital signs) every four hours and do a cranial nerve check every time we go in there. We can look for signs like headaches, aphasia, or confusion,” she said. “We can (also) ask the patient to write out a sentence and see if there are any tremors in their penmanship.”


Garvin KL. CAR-T Therapy Nursing Considerations; Patient Education & Toxicity Management. Presented at: 5th Annual School of Nursing Oncology Live, Interactive Webcast. August 6-August 7, 20201.