Each month, Oncology Nursing News® takes a look back at our most popular stories.
In April 2023, new research suggested that nurses may be able to extend the flush times for implanted vascular access devices; 4 gastrointestinal (GI) cancer specialists relayed their experiences in providing high quality care to patients with pancreatic cancer and cholangiocarcinoma; and findings from a study demonstrated that oncology nurses are well suited to encourage end-of-life conversations.
In addition, nursing experts emphasized the importance of discussing biomarker testing with patients, and an oncology nurse and cancer survivor presented on the importance of long-term follow-up in radiation adverse event management.
A study published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing demonstrated that the use of aspiration prior to flushing helps nurses safely extend implanted vascular access device (IVAD) flush times. In an analysis of patients with these devises, visible clots and alterations in color and appearance were observed in 25% of patients between 8 and 17 or more weeks of maintenance when the IVAD was aspirated prior to flushing.
“The risk of flushing abnormal-appearing contents into the bloodstream was feasible,” Monica McManus, MHA, BSN, RN, OCN, a medical oncology and surgical nurse manager at Providence Regional Medical Center, and co-investigators, wrote in the study. “Aspirating prior to flushing may be an initial step to ensure reservoir contents are discarded if noticeable abnormal appearance is observed.”
Patients with pancreatic cancer and cholangiocarcinoma face poor prognoses; however, research is underway to improve the standard of care for people facing these diseases. To better understand current treatment options, and to highlight best nursing practices in the specialties, Oncology Nursing News® met with 4 nurses who specialize in GI oncology and asked them to share their experiences.
A nurse-led primary palliative care intervention led to an increase in end-of-life discussions and the completion of advance directives among patients with advanced cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. The findings are based on a secondary analysis of patients who were randomly assigned to monthly conversations with trained nursing staff or standard care.
“Our findings show that a nurse-led primary palliative care intervention improves advance care planning uptake, assessed as an [end-of-life conversation] with one’s oncologist or completion of an advance directive, among patients with advanced cancer,” Michael Cohen, MD, a gynecologic oncologist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and co-investigators, wrote in the study. “Nurse-led primary palliative care is a promising approach to improve advance care planning among patients with advanced cancer, particularly for those without access to specialty palliative care.”
In this feature piece, Kelly Filchner, PhD, MSN, RN, OCN, CCRC, discusses how the oncology nurses is uniquely poised to help make the broad concept of biomarkers easily digestible for patients.
She poses the following question to readers:
Have you ever interacted with a patient who said the following question? “My doctor told me I have something called EGFR. It’s just a bunch of letters, and I really do not understand what it means. Can you help me?”
As Filchner points out, being familiar with the terminology and being prepared to discuss this terminology with your patients are 2 different entities. Yet, with the explosion of new therapies for cancer in recent years, it is imperative that oncology nurses in all types of roles understand the language used to describe both somatic (acquired) and germline (hereditary or genetic) tumor profiles.
In a presentation at the 48th Annual Oncology Nursing Society Congress, Ashley Marenyi, RN, BSN, OCN, discusses key consideration in managing short- and long-term adverse effects in patients who receive radiation therapy for head and neck cancer.
According to Marenyi, there needs to be a stronger focus on long-term survivorship care.
“There’s been an increase [in the] rate of head and neck cancer survivors in the past decade, thanks in large part to the improvements of standard therapies,” Marenyi said. “[And] it’s called attention to the need for more structured approaches to survivorship care planning.”