Importance of oncology nurses' work and research to cancer care

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Published: 6 Jun 2014
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Sarah Liptrott - Eurpean Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy

Sarah Liptrott talks to ecancertv about the important role oncology nurses play throughout the cancer trajectory for patients and carers with reference to symptom management and survivorship issues. She stresses the importance of nurses being properly educated on up-to-date cancer care and treatment and of having nurse's experiences and knowledge shared among academia. 

Importance of oncology nurses' work and research to cancer care

Sarah Liptrott - European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy


I think oncology nurses have a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference to patients and families throughout their cancer trajectory for patients and for carers, as I said before. It’s important that we address patients’ needs and these can be things like survivorship issues, symptom management issues. These can be done throughout things like nursing research so it’s important that nurses put themselves forward and get involved in nursing research in order to enhance patient care.

Another challenge for oncology nurses is that we know oncology is a developing field so there are lots of new innovations, new molecules, new ways of delivering drugs and nurses need to be able to address patients’ questions. So this means that nurses need to have a good education and good understanding of what’s actually out there for patients.

Another challenge for oncology nursing is that of service provision. So in many countries now the role of the nurse is expanding, they’re becoming nurse practitioners and we also have roles, for example nurse prescribing. So it’s a challenge for nurses how this is going to be integrated into practice and how we can move service provision forward.

What are the aims of this nursing special issue?

The idea of the special issue really is to highlight some of these key challenges that I’ve identified and also highlight the possibility there is of nurses being involved in research, performing research and also getting their work published.

What are some of the topics that have been covered?

We’ve got one article that looks at the role of the nurse as a nurse prescriber. This is a really interesting article because it talks about a nurse prescribing in the environment of acute setting in chemotherapy which is quite an innovative paper. We also have a paper which looks at assessment, patient holistic assessment, and this in terms of an e-learning exercise. We also have two national surveys which were performed here in Italy, both of them looking at nurse-led research, one surrounding haemorrhagic cystitis, which is an important side effect that we’re aware of in stem cell transplantation, and also another survey looking at microbiological sampling and difference in clinical practice. We also have an article which looks at a trastuzumab service and how a difficult situation is being dealt with locally and patients’ perceptions of that service and another article which looks at chemotherapy handling during pregnancy.

As a research nurse in the European Institute of Oncology what are your main roles?

The main idea is to follow patients who are involved in clinical trials. So this can be from the point of seeing patients in a new patient clinic, following them through to make sure that they’ve got the appropriate diagnosis, stage investigations, and then early screening to see whether the patients may be eligible for enrolment in clinical trials, so proposal of a clinical trial. Patients who then go on to a clinical trial are managed appropriately. So it’s not that I particularly will give the drugs themselves but I may be involved in facilitating examinations, facilitating radiological examinations, follow-up, assessing patients for adverse events etc.