Oncology nurse addresses conference

Specialties Oncology


Oncology nurse addresses conference

By Liza Cull

In the news: Liza Cull, an oncology nurse who works in the The William W. Backus Hospital Community Health/Nursing Education Department, presented a program on spinal cord compression resulting from cancer to 1,500 oncology nurses at the Oncology Nursing Society's 29th Annual Congress in Anaheim, Calif.

Nurses make a difference: Cull, of Colchester, was one of three nurses who presented information May 1 at the event. Their presentations focused on cancer patients suffering from spinal cord compression, tumor lysis syndrome, hypercalemia, and superior vena cava syndrome. In her presentation, "Oncologic Emergencies: Nurses Make the Difference," Cull discussed spinal cord compression resulting from cancer and used a case study of a patient. "When a patient with breast, lung or prostate cancer presents with back pain, spinal cord compression should be suspected," Cull said. "These types of cancers have a tendency to spread to the bone and vertebrae causing pressure on the spinal cord." She stressed the importance of detection and treatment beginning as early as possible, as spinal cord compression can lead to sensory and motor loss, and then paralysis.

New treatments: Cull's research has revealed that standard treatment for spinal cord compression was radiation followed by surgery. However, a study by Roy A. Patchell, a doctor at the University of Kentucky, showed that surgery followed by radiation was significantly more effective in relieving spinal cord compression vs. radiation alone. Cull said this protocol is being implemented with cancer patients at Backus.

Quotable: Cull "thoroughly enjoyed" the challenge of her presentation, and hopes she made a difference by encouraging oncology nurses to recognize the symptoms of spinal cord compression.

-- Amy Beth Preiss


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