Care for cancer patients in your role as an oncology nurse

November 7, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Diagnosing a patient on the ward Being diagnosed with cancer can be one of the most devastating experiences that a person can go through. This is a disease that does not differentiate based on age, gender or any other factor. Children have as much chance as adults of getting cancer. A cancer diagnosis does not just affect the individual but also their loved ones who put their trust into the hands of the oncologists and nurses at the hospital. In such a scenario, the oncology nurse acts as a mediator between the patient, the physician and other medical professionals and the family.



Role and duties of an oncology nurse

An oncology nurse cares for cancer patients, right from the time they get admitted into the hospital until the time they are discharged and even after that. The duties performed by these nurses include:


As an oncology nurse you would by the patient’s side right from the time they are admitted until they are in remission and ready to be discharged or in some cases, till the end of their lives if the cancer is aggressive and cannot be cured.

Besides taking care of the patient, the nurse also educates the family and keeps them up to date with the progress of the patient. There are times when the nurse also has to be an emotional support for the family.

Since oncology is a very challenging and rewarding area of medicine, it is necessary for the nurse to be emotionally strong and physically able to keep up with the job.


There are three major areas that a nurse is involved with in the oncology department:

Patient care

 Patient care is the most important responsibility of the nurse. The nurse should be able to recognize and diagnose any kind of cancer related symptom as soon as it comes up. It is important to record any change in health and any activity that goes on. Charting is also a vital part of this job because the nurse needs to keep a record of the patient that is always up-to-date so that the doctors can treat the patient immediately. A number of patients also need special individual plans made for their treatment, diet and general health and it is up to the nurse to draw up these plans.


Family care

 The nurse must act as a support and educator for the family. It is important to constantly give the family updates about the patient. Patient history can also be obtained from the family. All procedures should be explained to the family by the nurse in simple language so that they know what is going on.


Communication with professionals

 The nurse has to report to doctors and other healthcare professionals. Since they know the patient better than most doctors, it is important to give them a complete report on the progress of the patient whenever needed. A number of nurses also take part in research activities and they observe different patients that are admitted to the oncology ward, then put together all the relevant information and submit this information. This is a huge help in order to form trends and patterns that can be tackled together.