Nclex Exam Topic: Understand Oncology And Cancer Nursing

Last Updated: May 2024

Table of Contents

If you’re studying for the NCLEX exam, it’s essential to understand oncology and cancer nursing. This topic is crucial because cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. As a nurse, you’ll encounter patients with a cancer diagnosis, and you’ll need to understand their unique needs and how to care for them.

In this article, you’ll learn about the basics of oncology nursing, including the types of cancer, cancer treatments, symptom management, and psychosocial support for patients. You’ll also discover nursing interventions and patient education that are essential in caring for cancer patients.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of the role of a nurse in oncology and be better prepared to tackle this topic on the NCLEX exam.

Key Takeaways

  • Oncology nursing involves caring for patients with various types of cancer, administering chemotherapy and radiation therapy, monitoring symptoms and side effects, and providing emotional support.
  • Common types of cancer and risk factors for developing cancer, as well as cancer treatments including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.
  • The importance of patient-centered care planning and effective communication skills, patient education for care planning, symptom management, and advocacy, and prioritizing patient well-being and being an advocate for their rights as crucial in oncology and cancer nursing.
  • The high demand for oncology nurses, the unique needs of cancer patients, and the impact of oncology nurses on patients’ lives, as well as the importance of staying up-to-date on cancer prevention research and management of side effects and emotional support for patients undergoing cancer treatment.

Overview of Oncology Nursing

You’ll be learning about the basics of oncology nursing, which is a crucial part of providing comprehensive care to cancer patients. As an oncology nurse, your scope of practice will involve caring for patients with various types of cancer, administering chemotherapy and radiation therapy, monitoring patients’ symptoms and side effects, and providing emotional support to patients and their families.

There are a variety of career opportunities available in oncology nursing, including working in hospitals, outpatient clinics, hospice care, and research settings. With the increasing incidence of cancer worldwide, the demand for oncology nurses is high and is expected to continue to grow in the future.

As an oncology nurse, you will have the opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of your patients and their loved ones.

Types of Cancer

Get ready to explore the diverse range of cancers that exist, from breast cancer to melanoma and beyond.

There are many common types of cancer that you may encounter as an oncology nurse. Some of the most prevalent types of cancer include breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. However, there are many other types of cancer that you should be familiar with as well, such as melanoma, leukemia, lymphoma, and ovarian cancer.

When it comes to the risk factors for developing cancer, there are a lot of different factors that can play a role. Some of the most common risk factors include age, family history, tobacco use, exposure to certain chemicals or substances, and a compromised immune system.

As an oncology nurse, it’ll be important for you to be aware of these risk factors and to help educate your patients on ways that they can reduce their risk of developing cancer. By staying up-to-date on the latest research and information on cancer prevention, you can help your patients stay healthy and reduce their risk of developing this devastating disease.

Cancer Treatments

Now that you understand the different types of cancer, it’s important to know about the various treatments available.

Cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.

Each treatment method has its own benefits and risks, and your healthcare team will work with you to determine the best course of action for your specific case.

Surgery

After the diagnosis of cancer, surgery is often considered as a treatment option to remove the tumor and prevent its spread to other parts of the body. Surgery is usually done after a biopsy has confirmed the presence of cancer cells. The type of surgery will depend on the location and size of the tumor. There are two main types of cancer surgery, which are curative and palliative. Curative surgery aims to remove the entire tumor, while palliative surgery aims to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.

After surgery, you will need post-operative care to help you recover. This includes managing pain, monitoring for complications, and following the instructions of your healthcare provider. Some common complications after surgery include bleeding, infection, and blood clots. It is important to follow up with your healthcare provider to ensure proper healing and to monitor for any signs of recurrence. With proper care and monitoring, many patients are able to recover from cancer surgery and continue on with their lives.

Complications Symptoms Treatment
Bleeding Swelling, pain, redness, decreased blood pressure Blood transfusions, surgical intervention
Infection Fever, chills, redness, swelling, drainage at surgical site Antibiotics, wound care
Blood clots Swelling, pain, warmth, redness in legs Blood thinners, compression stockings Anesthesia complications Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, breathing problems Monitoring and supportive care

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a common cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It’s a systemic treatment that travels throughout the body to target cancer cells that may have spread beyond the original tumor. Chemotherapy drugs can be administered in several ways, including orally, through injection, or through an IV. The specific chemotherapy drugs and dosage used will depend on the type and stage of cancer being treated.

While chemotherapy can be effective in destroying cancer cells, it can also cause side effects. These side effects can vary depending on the individual and the chemotherapy drugs being used. Common side effects of chemotherapy include nausea and vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, and increased risk of infection.

Your healthcare team will work with you to manage these side effects and ensure that your chemotherapy treatment is as comfortable and effective as possible.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to target and destroy cancer cells, often using a machine to deliver the treatment. This form of therapy can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments such as chemotherapy or surgery.

While radiation therapy is a powerful tool against cancer, there are precautions that need to be taken to ensure the safety of both the patient and healthcare workers. One important precaution is limiting the amount of exposure to radiation.

Patients undergoing radiation therapy should avoid prolonged contact with pregnant women or young children. Additionally, healthcare workers should wear protective clothing and stand behind a shield during treatment.

Radiation side effects can include skin irritation, fatigue, and nausea. These side effects can be managed with medication and proper self-care, such as avoiding direct sunlight and staying hydrated.

With proper precautions and management of side effects, radiation therapy can be an effective form of cancer treatment.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a cutting-edge cancer treatment that harnesses the power of the immune system to fight cancer cells. Cancer immunology is the study of how the immune system interacts with cancer cells.

Immunotherapy works by boosting the immune system’s ability to recognize and attack cancer cells. This treatment can be used alone or in combination with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

There are several types of immunotherapy, including checkpoint inhibitors, CAR T-cell therapy, and cancer vaccines. Checkpoint inhibitors work by blocking proteins that stop the immune system from attacking cancer cells. CAR T-cell therapy involves genetically modifying a patient’s immune cells to recognize and attack cancer cells. Cancer vaccines work by training the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells.

Immunotherapy has shown promising results in treating various types of cancer, including melanoma, lung cancer, and lymphoma. However, like all cancer treatments, it may not work for everyone and can have side effects.

Targeted Therapy

Now that you’ve learned about immunotherapy, it’s time to dive into another important aspect of cancer treatment: targeted therapy. Unlike immunotherapy, which stimulates the immune system to attack cancer cells, targeted therapy uses drugs to specifically target and block the molecules or proteins that allow cancer cells to grow and divide.

One of the benefits of targeted therapy is its ability to deliver more precise treatment with fewer side effects. However, like any cancer treatment, there are resistance mechanisms that can develop over time. This is where drug development comes into play – scientists are constantly working to develop new targeted therapies that can overcome these resistance mechanisms and improve patient outcomes.

To better understand targeted therapy, let’s break it down into two sub-lists:

  • Advantages of targeted therapy

  • More precise treatment with fewer side effects

  • Ability to target specific molecules or proteins that allow cancer cells to grow and divide

  • Challenges of targeted therapy

  • Development of resistance mechanisms over time

  • Ongoing need for drug development to overcome resistance and improve patient outcomes.

Hormone Therapy

You may have heard about hormone therapy, a treatment that uses medication to block or lower the levels of hormones in your body that may be fueling the growth of certain types of cancer. Hormone therapy is often used for breast and prostate cancer, as these types of cancer are sensitive to hormones like estrogen and testosterone.

The benefits of hormone therapy in oncology nursing include slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells, shrinking tumors, and preventing cancer from recurring. It can also be used in combination with other cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy to improve their effectiveness.

However, like any medical treatment, hormone therapy comes with risks. Patients may experience hot flashes, fatigue, mood changes, and loss of bone density. In some cases, hormone therapy may increase the risk of heart disease, blood clots, and stroke.

Patients receiving hormone therapy require close monitoring and regular check-ups with their healthcare provider to ensure there are no adverse effects. Patient education is also an essential component of hormone therapy in oncology nursing. Patients need to understand the benefits and risks of the treatment, as well as how to manage any side effects they may experience.

Symptom Management and Side Effects

Managing symptoms and side effects of cancer treatment can be challenging, but there are medications and interventions available to help improve quality of life for patients.

Palliative care is an approach to care that focuses on relieving symptoms and improving quality of life for patients, especially those with serious or life-limiting illnesses like cancer. This type of care can be provided at any stage of the disease, and isn’t limited to end of life care.

Palliative care may involve the use of medications to manage pain, nausea, and other symptoms, as well as non-pharmacological treatments such as massage, acupuncture, and relaxation techniques.

In addition to palliative care, there are other interventions that can help manage symptoms and side effects of cancer treatment. Anti-nausea medications can be used to control nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Other medications can be used to manage pain, fatigue, and other symptoms that may occur during cancer treatment. It’s important for patients to communicate with their healthcare team about any symptoms or side effects they’re experiencing so that appropriate interventions can be provided to help improve their quality of life.

Psychosocial Support

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be emotionally difficult, but there are various psychosocial support resources available to help you cope with the challenges of cancer treatment. One such resource is counseling services. Counseling can provide you with a safe and confidential space to express your thoughts and feelings about your diagnosis and treatment. It can also help you develop coping strategies, improve your communication with loved ones, and reduce anxiety and depression.

In addition to counseling services, survivorship care can also provide valuable psychosocial support. Survivorship care involves the management of physical, emotional, and social issues that may arise after cancer treatment. This may include follow-up appointments with your healthcare team, support groups, and resources to help you manage long-term side effects of treatment.

By accessing these resources, you can improve your overall well-being and quality of life, even after completing cancer treatment.

Nursing Interventions and Patient Education

When caring for patients with cancer, you must focus on care planning, patient education, and advocacy for patients and families. This means creating a comprehensive plan that addresses the patient’s physical, emotional, and mental health needs.

It also involves educating patients and their loved ones about the treatment process and how to manage symptoms. Additionally, advocating for their rights and needs within the healthcare system is crucial.

Overall, it’s important to remember that nursing interventions and patient education go hand in hand when caring for patients with cancer.

Care Planning

To effectively plan care for your oncology patients, it’s important to consider their individual needs and preferences. This involves care coordination and interdisciplinary collaboration among various healthcare professionals.

As a nurse, you play a crucial role in developing a comprehensive care plan that addresses the physical, emotional, and psychosocial needs of your patients. One key aspect of care planning is identifying specific interventions that can help manage symptoms and side effects related to cancer and its treatment. This may involve administering medications, providing supportive care, or recommending complementary therapies.

Additionally, it’s important to involve patients and their families in the care planning process by discussing their goals and expectations, providing education and resources, and encouraging open communication. By taking a holistic and patient-centered approach to care planning, you can help your oncology patients achieve the best possible outcomes and improve their quality of life.

Patient Education on Treatment and Symptom Management

As a healthcare provider, it’s important to educate your patients about managing symptoms and treatment options to ensure they have the best possible outcomes. Patient empowerment is a key component of this process, and it starts with effective communication skills on your part.

When discussing treatment options, be sure to explain the benefits and risks of each one in a clear and concise manner. Encourage your patients to ask questions and express their concerns, so they can make informed decisions about their care.

In addition to treatment options, it’s important to educate your patients about symptom management. This includes educating them about common side effects of cancer treatments, such as nausea, fatigue, and pain. You can provide them with tips and strategies to help manage these symptoms, such as medication management and lifestyle changes.

By empowering your patients with this knowledge, you can help them feel more in control of their care and improve their overall quality of life.

Advocacy for Patients and Families

Now that you’ve learned about patient education on treatment and symptom management in oncology and cancer nursing, it’s important to understand the significance of advocating for patients and their families.

As a nurse, you play a crucial role in ensuring that the patient’s rights are respected and their needs are met throughout their cancer journey. Here are some ways you can advocate for your patients and their families:

  • Communicate effectively with the healthcare team to ensure that the patient’s wishes and concerns are being addressed.
  • Encourage the patient to ask questions and seek clarification on any aspect of their care.
  • Support the patient in making informed decisions by providing them with accurate and unbiased information.
  • Help the patient navigate the healthcare system and access resources that might be helpful.
  • Advocate for the patient’s right to informed consent, which involves providing them with all the necessary information about their treatment options so that they can make an informed decision.

By advocating for your patients and their families, you can help them feel empowered and in control of their cancer journey. As a nurse, you have the power to make a difference in their lives by being their voice and ensuring that their needs are being met. Remember to always prioritize the patient’s well-being and be an advocate for their rights.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common type of cancer among men and women?

The most common type of cancer among men and women is skin cancer, specifically non-melanoma skin cancer. This type of cancer is often caused by excessive exposure to UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds. Other risk factors for developing non-melanoma skin cancer include having fair skin, a history of sunburns, a weakened immune system, and exposure to certain chemicals.

It’s important to protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen, protective clothing, and avoiding outdoor activities during peak sun hours. Regular skin checks by a healthcare provider can also help detect skin cancer early when it’s most treatable.

Can cancer be completely cured or is it always a chronic condition?

When it comes to cancer, the answer to whether it can be completely cured or not is not a simple one. While some types of cancer can be cured through treatment, others may require long term cancer management.

The prospects of a cancer cure depend on various factors, such as the type and stage of cancer, as well as the individual’s response to treatment. Even if cancer is cured, there may be a chance of recurrence, and ongoing monitoring is often necessary.

For those who cannot be cured, long term management may involve a combination of treatments and therapies to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Ultimately, cancer is a complex disease, and the best approach to treatment and management will depend on each individual case.

How does a patient’s age and overall health affect their cancer treatment options?

When it comes to cancer treatment decisions, patient considerations play a crucial role. Age and overall health are two factors that can heavily impact the treatment options available to a patient.

For example, a younger patient with good health may be able to tolerate more aggressive treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. On the other hand, an older patient with underlying health issues may not be able to handle the same level of treatment intensity. In these cases, treatment plans may need to be adjusted to accommodate the patient’s individual needs.

Ultimately, the goal is to provide the most effective treatment possible while also minimizing any negative impact on the patient’s quality of life.

Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that can be used alongside conventional cancer treatments?

If you’re wondering whether there are alternative or complementary therapies that can be used alongside conventional cancer treatments, the answer is yes.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine are two such options. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on your body to help reduce pain and improve overall well-being. Herbal medicine involves the use of plant extracts to help alleviate symptoms and promote healing.

While these therapies aren’t intended to replace conventional treatments, they can be used in conjunction with them to improve your overall health and well-being.

How can family members and caregivers best support a loved one with cancer?

When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it can be a difficult and emotional time for both the patient and their family members or caregivers. The best way to support your loved one is to be there for them and offer your support in any way possible.

One of the most important things you can do is to listen to their concerns and offer words of encouragement. It’s also important to find ways to cope with your own emotions, so you can be strong for your loved one. Communication is key, so it’s important to keep the lines of communication open and be honest about your feelings.

Offer to help with daily activities, such as cooking or cleaning, and attend appointments with them if possible. Remember to take care of yourself as well, by getting enough rest, eating well, and seeking support from others.

Conclusion

Congratulations, you’ve completed reading about oncology and cancer nursing!

By now, you should have a better understanding of the different types of cancer, treatments, symptom management, and psychosocial support available to patients.

As a nurse, it’s essential to be knowledgeable about these topics and to provide appropriate interventions and patient education.

Remember, oncology nursing requires a compassionate and empathetic approach as patients and their families may be going through a difficult and emotional time.

It’s important to provide not only physical care but also emotional and psychological support.

By staying informed and up-to-date on the latest research and treatments, you can improve the quality of life for your patients and help them navigate through their cancer journey.

Keep up the great work and continue to strive towards providing exceptional care to your patients.

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Are you considering pursuing a career in nursing? If so, you may be required to take the PTI Nursing Entrance Exam. This exam is designed to assess your knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, and math, as well as your critical thinking skills. It’s important

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Nursing Exam Study Materials Review
Lancy H. Jones

Study For Hesi Nursing Exam: Effective Tips And Resources

Are you a nursing student preparing for the HESI exam? This standardized test is a critical component of your nursing education, as it measures your knowledge and skills in a variety of areas, including anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, and critical thinking. To help you

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Nursing Exam Study Materials Review
Lancy H. Jones

Nursing Entrance Exam Study Guides: Top Recommendations

Are you considering pursuing a career in nursing? If so, you’ll likely need to pass a nursing entrance exam before you can begin your studies. These exams are designed to assess your knowledge and abilities in various areas, including science, math, and critical thinking.

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Nursing Exam Study Materials Review
Lancy H. Jones

Kaplan Pre-Admission Nursing Exam: An In-Depth Overview

Are you considering a career in nursing? One important step in the process is taking the Kaplan Pre-Admission Nursing Exam. This exam is designed to assess your knowledge and skills in various areas of nursing to determine your readiness for nursing school. In this

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Nursing Exam Study Materials Review
Lancy H. Jones

Mcgraw Hill Nursing Entrance Exam: An In-Depth Review

Are you considering a career in nursing? If so, you’ll want to know about the McGraw Hill Nursing Entrance Exam. This test is designed to assess your knowledge and skills in math, science, reading comprehension, and critical thinking. It’s an important part of the

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Nursing Exam Study Materials Review
Lancy H. Jones

Nursing Home Administrator Exam: Tips And Study Resources

Are you preparing to take the nursing home administrator exam? Congratulations on taking the first step towards becoming a licensed nursing home administrator! This exam is an essential requirement for individuals who want to pursue a career in this field. However, it can be

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Nursing Exam Study Materials Review
Lancy H. Jones

Nursing Exam Tips And Tricks: Strategies For Success

Are you a nursing student preparing for an upcoming exam? Feeling overwhelmed with the amount of material you need to study? Don’t worry, with the right strategies, you can succeed in your nursing exams. In this article, we will provide you with some helpful

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Nursing Exam Study Materials Review
Lancy H. Jones

Fundamentals Of Nursing Final Exam: Test Your Knowledge

Are you a nursing student getting ready to take your final exam? Feeling nervous about whether you’re prepared enough to pass? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! This article will test your knowledge on the fundamentals of nursing, including patient care and safety, medical

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Nursing Exam Study Materials Review
Lancy H. Jones

Kaplan Nursing Entrance Exam 2017: An In-Depth Analysis

Are you considering a career in nursing? If so, you may be required to take the Kaplan Nursing Entrance Exam as part of the admissions process for nursing programs across the US. This comprehensive exam tests your knowledge in a variety of subjects, including

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Nursing Exam Study Materials Review
Lancy H. Jones

Nursing School Exit Exam: Strategies For Success

Congratulations on nearing the end of your nursing school journey! As you prepare to graduate, you will likely face the challenge of taking a nursing school exit exam. This test is designed to assess your knowledge and skills in various areas of nursing, and

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Nursing Exam Study Materials Review
Lancy H. Jones

Nursing Pre-Entrance Exam: Key Information And Study Tips

Are you considering a career in nursing? Before you can begin your journey, you’ll need to pass the nursing pre-entrance exam. This exam is designed to assess your knowledge and skills in areas such as math, science, reading comprehension, and critical thinking. It’s a

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Nursing Exam Study Materials Review
Lancy H. Jones

Nursing Exam Meme: Hilarious And Relatable Nursing Humor

Are you a nursing student or a nurse who needs a good laugh? Look no further than nursing exam memes. These hilarious and relatable memes have taken the nursing community by storm, providing a much-needed break from the stress and pressure of nursing education

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Nursing Exam Study Materials Review
Lancy H. Jones

What Is The Hesi Exam For Nursing? An In-Depth Overview

Are you considering a career in nursing? If so, you may have heard of the HESI exam. The HESI exam, or Health Education Systems, Inc. exam, is a standardized test often used by nursing schools to assess the knowledge and skills of prospective nursing

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Nursing Exam Study Materials Review
Lancy H. Jones

Exit Exam Nursing: Strategies For Success

Congratulations on completing your nursing program! Now it’s time to prepare for the final hurdle: the Exit Exam. Passing this exam is essential to obtaining your nursing license and beginning your career. But don’t worry, with the right strategies and preparation, you can succeed.

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