The main purpose of attending the South-East Asia Breast Cancer Symposium was to conduct a three-hour oncology nursing workshop for capacity building of Vietnamese nurses and the congress participants who provide care to patients with cancer. As you may also know that one of the major roles of nurses is prevention and also the management of symptoms and treatment related side effects. So the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care, in the short term ISNCC, worked together with the nursing team of the Huế Central Hospital in order to design the oncology nursing workshop for capacity building for nurses. Actually this workshop consisted of two topics – the first one was management of extravasations and the second one was symptom management in palliative care. So, apart from me and the nursing team of Huế Central Hospitals, Miss Alyssa Grissom from the University of Pennsylvania and Dr Carman Kwok from the Haven of Hope Sister Annie Skau Holistic Care Center also participated in this workshop and shared with the participants their expertise and knowledge.
I would like to now share with you more about the details of this workshop and why this is so important in order to make use of this platform for training the nurses in the symposium. Actually, chemotherapy is one of the primary treatments for patients with cancer and intravenous administration is commonly used for chemotherapy. However, chemotherapy drugs which are classified as vesicants can cause tissue damage and even tissue death. So if the drugs accidentally leak into the surrounding tissues, like an intravenous catheter infiltrating into the surrounding tissues of the administration site, it will happen – extravasation. So in this workshop, the participants were expected to gain knowledge about chemotherapy drugs classified as vesicants or other preventive measures of extravasations, how to monitor for the extravasations as well as the emergency management if extravasation is suspected. We also provided several case studies to the participants so that they could discuss with one another how to deal with those incidents.
Another topic for this workshop was related to the symptom management in palliative care. According to the WHO, palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families who are facing problems associated with a life-threatening illness. So therefore relieving symptom burden and suffering of the patients with advanced illnesses is one of the major goals of providing palliative care and also is one of the roles of the nurses when they deliver their palliative care as well.
In this workshop participants were expected to have a better understanding about what is palliative care and the principles of palliative care. What are the common symptoms in advanced cancer illnesses and how to conduct an assessment and how to manage the four common distressing symptoms in patients with advanced cancer. The four most common symptoms for those patients with advanced cancers are pain, breathlessness, nausea and vomiting and fatigue. We also provided case studies regarding the total pain management in order to highlight the importance of using a multidisciplinary approach for effective symptom management.
I would like to also share with you the feedback of the participants and, in fact, we are very glad that the workshop was conducted very successfully because many nurses and the conference participants attended our workshop. The ISNCC is also very delighted to continue collaborating with the Breast Cancer Commissions and also the advocates across South-East Asia in order to provide training and capacity building for nurses in South-East Asia’s Breast Cancer Symposia.
Anything else to add?
I just want to take this opportunity to thank the symposium organisers because they have done a very good job in order to share the new knowledge about breast cancer and also provide such a good platform for us to provide the training and the capacity building for the nurses in Vietnam as well as South-East Asia. I look forward to having more opportunity to collaborate with them.