The Elephant in the Pink Room
Awareness months come and go, but for patients living with metastatic breast cancer, treatment doesn’t end, nor does the worry over progression with each follow-up scan or blood test.
Yet the good news is, many women now live with this diagnosis as a chronic disease, and both researchers and the breast cancer advocacy community are shining a much-needed spotlight on advanced-stage breast cancer. They are working not only toward better treatments, but also, enhancing awareness of the unique challenges this diagnosis brings.
In our cover story this month, we explore this new landscape from the vantage point of practitioners, patients, and researchers. Findings of a recent survey reveal that patients do want to play a bigger role in making treatment decisions and having their voices heard, reminding oncologists and nurses about how important it is to foster open and frequent patient—provider communication built around a model of shared decision making.
And on the research front, we showcase an inspiring story of how patients with metastatic breast cancer are clicking “count me in,” to be part of the MBC Project, a patient-powered registry that all stakeholders hope will lead to new discoveries and better treatments. More than 2500 patients have already signed on, with more than half also giving their consent to provide their medical records and tissue and saliva samples as part of a patient-driven, social media—enabled research effort that it’s hoped may serve as a model that can be used for other disease types.
Cognitive dysfunction or “chemobrain” is a common complaint after breast cancer treatment, and also in this issue, Jill Shelton, clinical manager for outpatient neurosciences at Vanderbilt Medical Center, provides a concise review of the symptom to help nurses not only assess for this side effect, but also provide some practical tips to help patients cope.
Oncology Nursing News editor-in-chief Lisa Schulmeister rightfully reminds us that October is also Liver Cancer Awareness Month in her column, “What You Need to Know About Liver Cancer.” The International Liver Cancer Association convened for its 10th annual meeting in Vancouver last month, and we present some research highlights from that meeting in this month’s Clinical Insights section.
In many respects, every month is cancer awareness month here, as we endeavor to bring you the latest information and resources to help you in your daily practice supporting patients, survivors, and their caregivers. Let us know what you would like to hear more about, and as always, thank you for reading.
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