What Is The Role Of An Oncology Nurse During Chemotherapy?

Anna Ferrari M.D., B.S., NYU Langone Medical Center

March 16, 2009 -- Question: What is the role of an oncology nurse during chemotherapy?

Answer: So let me elaborate a little on this. The role of the oncology nurse is not only restricted to chemotherapy or the period of chemotherapy, indeed for men with prostate cancer. It plays a role in hormone therapy or in general advice. So I would say the oncology nurse is pivotal to this process, is the liaison between you the patient and the family and the oncologist.

He or she will explain, do an educational part of chemotherapy in detail more so than the oncologist may spend with you. And you can go back with questions and further clarifications to the nurse. She will also be instrumental to guide you through the side effects and toxicities that may occur when chemotherapy, and give you tips on how to prevent them, and be aware of things that you can do to avoid them all together. So this will certainly improve the transition or the period that you're going through chemotherapy, avoiding the obstacles that may emerge and make your successful treatment in terms of receiving all the chemotherapy that you need to receive and minimizing the side effects. In addition, the chemotherapy nurse is generally the one that will, with the oncologist, form a team that will advise you in regards to some nutrition tips or refer you to someone will focus on that particular area, if that were your need. Social services can also be channeled through the nurse, and in general, emotional support many times that are used by prostate cancer patients that are going through difficult times dealing with the different treatments. And she or he really helps too in this overall team approach that we try to provide for those who are going through chemotherapy or hormonal therapy.