Oncology Nursing

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    Oncology nursing deals more with life than death. I had always associated oncology nursing with hospice or death and dying. However, with all the new advances in care of the cancer patient, life is more often the prognosis.This is an article about general oncology nursing. There are many other subspecialties.

    Oncology Nursing

    Oncology nursing is the overall general care of the patient diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is no longer the death sentence that it once was. With new discoveries coming almost daily and a lot of research being conducted currently, cancer is becoming curable. Oncology nurses need to understand pathophysiology of various types of cancer. Almost everyone in the US has heard of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. It is held in many different cities throughout the country benefiting breast cancer research.

    Work Environment

    Oncology nurses work in a wide variety of workplaces
    • Hospitals, caring for acutely ill or newly diagnosed patients
    • Outpatient clinics - where patients continue their care
    • Chemotherapeutic units - these can be inpatient or outpatient and is the place where chemotherapy is administered
    • Home care - where care continues. This might involve wound care, teaching family members intravenous infusion (IV) or other daily care
    • Radiation therapy care of the cancer patient
    • Nurse educator - providing education to patients and families as well as to other nurses
    • Nurse navigator - assists the patient and family through the maze of healthcare once diagnosed with cancer. This type of nurse might see a patient in the clinic, hospital, nursing home, home or they may provide phone support

    The Qualities of Oncology Nurses Include...
    • Understanding of anatomy and physiology and pathophysiology as many body systems may be affected.
    • Compassion for patients experiencing the diagnosis of cancer
    • Experience and ability to interpret complex medical terms and translate them into easily understandable terms for patients and families
    • Willingness to provide education to patients, families and staff. This is especially important as care standards change frequently

    Future of Cancer Nursing

    Research is ongoing for a number of cancers. Many agencies continue this research. Though many cancers are now curable, research continues into those that are not. The oncology nurse can also be on the forefront of cancer research by collecting data, analyzing plans, conducting research. Pay and benefits are varied by area of the country, type of facility and job description.

    Most Common Types of Cancer (U.S.)
    1. Bladder Cancer
    2. Breast Cancer
    3. Colon and Rectal Cancer
    4. Endometrial Cancer
    5. Kidney (Renal Cell) Cancer
    6. Leukemia
    7. Lung Cancer
    8. Melanoma
    9. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
    10. Pancreatic Cancer
    11. Prostate Cancer
    12. Thyroid Cancer

    This list is courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.


    allnurses has an active Oncology Nurses forum. Some of the recent topics include:

    Why Oncology?
    Resource for Cancer Basic
    Starting IVs

    The Oncology Nursing Society, is the organization for oncology nurses. Their website features information for nurses as well as patients. They include practice guidelines, resources for many types of cancer as well as safe handling of chemotherapeutic medications. There is also some info regarding side effects of each particular medicine.

    The American Cancer Society also offers info to patients, caregivers and families about alleviating side effects.

    WebMD offers information on a wide variety of cancers, treatments and survival rates.

    Mayo Clinic - Another great resource for nurses, patients and families.

    National Cancer Institute frequency, providing info regarding current research and treatment plans.
    Last edit by Joe V on Nov 18, '13
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  3. by   Valhalla_RN
    I'd also like to add the following resource for my Canadian Oncology Nursing colleagues:

    CANO-ACIO: Home (Website for Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology - Association Canadienne des Infirmieres en Oncologie)