ISNCC President Patsy’s keynote speech at the China Cancer Nurses Conference

October 4th, 2018 in ICNN Articles, International News

China Cancer Society Cancer Conference was held from August 17-20, 2018 in Shenyang, Liaoning.

Patsy Yates

President of the International Association of Oncology Care, Professor Patsy Yates of the Department of Nursing, Queensland University of Technology, Australia, brought a greeting from the International Association of Cancer Care Nurses to Chinese nurses. At the same time, she put forward the important point of the current status of pulse oncology care: nurses should carry out role transformation and provide personalized cancer treatments. Today’s cancer treatment is becoming more and more precise, and the development of technology provides a new approach to care, and nurses play a key role in ensuring the best outcomes and experiences of patients. Nurses should understand the impact of the experiences on patients, customize interventions for patients, and support patients’ self-management.

Kim Alexander

Then, Professor Kim Alexander of the Department of Nursing at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia gave a detailed explanation of this point, detailing the new approach to cancer care research – personalized symptom care. He exemplified “new measures on understanding experiences” and “new measures on test interventions”. New measures to opening a new way of thinking about cancer care. Bring together wisdom thinking, stimulate innovation vitality, enhance the connotation of disciplines, and improve the level of discipline construction.

Professor Brenda Marion Nevidjon, CEO of the American Society of Cancer Nursing, conducted an exchange on the study of the tolerant behavior of cancer nurses. The professor took the rapid changes in the cancer care industry as an entry point to deeply analyze the psychological state of cancer nurses, from three aspects: thought, behavior, and performance. Provide guidance to nurses working on cancer: strengthen self-cultivation, improve work resilience, and serve human health.

Professor Anne Fitzgerald and Prof. Margaret Hjorth from ICON Medical Group of Australia shared the Australian cancer care model with participants from the three aspects of cancer patient assessment and program development, oncology nursing professional ability training and safety skills training.

Through learning exchanges, Chinese oncology nurses have been enlightened to learn advanced cancer care knowledge and technology to improve the level of cancer care.




A Program to Mitigate the Potential Risks Associated with the Subcutaneous and Intramuscular Injection of Special Oncology Drugs

October 4th, 2018 in ICNN Articles

LING Wai Man, RN, MSc, FHKAN (Medicine-Oncology), Member of Communications Committee of ISNCC;
CHU Yuek Kei Florence, RN, BN
Department of Clinical Oncology, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital

The use of subcutaneous (SC) and intramuscular (IM) injection of special drugs in oncology setting is escalating in Hong Kong recently due to the advances in medical science. Some of them are used to treat the treatment side effects, such as the growth factors, whereas some are used to treat the cancer disease itself or its complications, like the hormones or anticoagulant. Nowadays, they have accounted for almost one-fourth of the parenteral injections in our Oncology Department. However, the sophisticated drug preparation and injection techniques of some of these drugs pose significant quality and safety issues in the nursing practice. In 2016, a prostate cancer patient ended up with a local abscess at the injection site and required incision and drainage after an improper subcutaneous injection of a long-acting hormonal drug. Post-incident review identified a number of actual and potential risks associated with the related nursing procedure. Therefore, a workgroup was formed in our Department to formulate and implement the improvement actions for mitigating the risks.

The quality improvement program aims to (i) enhance the accuracy and safety of SC and IM injection of the special oncology drugs identified, and (ii) evaluate the nursing staff compliance to the recommended new injection practice.

We revisited our current practice, performed literature review, developed evidence-based guidelines on SC and IM injection of the drugs identified, and designed a quick reference poster as well as a record sheet for clear documentation. Training was provided to our Department’s nurses before the promulgation of the new practice. It covered the drug preparation process, different injection techniques among drugs, choice of injection sites, importance and sequence of site rotation, proper documentation, and patient education on post-injection care. Clinical compliance audit and staff satisfaction survey were then performed in the 4th quarter of 2017 to evaluate the program.


Poster presented at Hospital Authority Convention 2018, Hong Kong.

Results and Outcomes:
There was no incidence of injection-related adverse reaction reported after implementing the new guidelines. The overall staff compliance rate of the clinical audit was 99.5%. The nurses were able to fulfil the requirements in all the major aspects of clinical practice concerned. They gave positive feedback on the new practice designed and the staff support provided. Moreover, the value of this program was recognized by the nursing colleagues at the ten General Out-patient Clinics of Hong Kong East Cluster. We had been invited to conduct a lunch talk to them in 2017. We shared our guidelines and the quick reference poster with them to improve their practice as well. In May 2018, our program was accepted for poster presentation in the Hong Kong Hospital Authority Convention, which had attracted over 5,600 delegates from Hong Kong and overseas.


Oncology nurses play a significant role in safeguarding the patient care and service standard in clinical practice. Our program has successfully benefitted the patients by mitigating the potential risks associated with these SC and IM injections. We have also helped our service partners of the same Cluster to improve their service by sharing of good practice.


A feasibility study to evaluate the relationships between endocrine symptoms, drug adherence and genetic polymorphisms in breast cancer patients receiving tamoxifen therapy

December 14th, 2017 in ICNN Articles

 A feasibility study to evaluate the relationships between endocrine symptoms, drug adherence and genetic polymorphisms in breast cancer patients receiving tamoxifen therapy 

Carmen WH Chan PhD 1, Ka Ming Chow DN 1, Alexandra McCarthy PhD 2, Judy YW Chan PhD 1 , Mary MY Waye PhD 1 , Stephen KW Tsui PhD 3, Winnie Yeo MBBS, MD 4, K C Choi PhD 1, Winnie KW So PhD 1, Winnie Soo MbChB, FHKAM 4, Christine Miaskowski PhD 5

1 The Nethersole School of Nursing, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
2 School of Nursing, The University of Auckland
3 School of Biomedical Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
4 Department of Clinical Oncology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
5 Department of Physiological Nursing, University of California

A common practice to prevent cancer recurrence after treatment is to prescribe
adjuvant tamoxifen, an anti-hormonal therapy, for at least five years.

1 Despite the acknowledged benefits in terms of reduced recurrence rates associated with its use,
adherence to tamoxifen is less than ideal. Approximately 1 in 5 patients who are
prescribed adjuvant tamoxifen do not achieve the optimal adherence threshold of
≥80% during the first year of treatment.

2-3 The most significant factor contributing to non-adherence is the tamoxifen-related endocrine (hormone deprivation) symptom
profile. Symptoms include sudden, severe, and often permanent vasomotor symptoms,
and related insomnia, somatic symptoms, depression and sexual dysfunction.

4-5 Toxicities, and the way that tamoxifen is metabolized, are largely influenced by
individual genetic makeup. Different forms of some genes found in the population
(i.e. polymorphisms) which are involved in the metabolism of tamoxifen (e.g.
CYP3A4 and CYP2D6) may influence the toxicity, side effects, and symptom
experiences of tamoxifen.

6-7 We want to explore if, and how, endocrine symptoms of tamoxifen correlate with both
drug adherence and polymorphisms in genes that regulate the metabolism of 2
tamoxifen in Chinese women with breast cancer. This is a collaborative study among
colleagues from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of California at
San Francisco, and the University of Auckland. Our research team comprises
oncology specialists, credentialed oncology nurses, molecular geneticists, a
biostatistician and technical staff. We plan to conduct a cohort study to follow 200
Chinese women over 12 months and assess their clinical symptoms and genetic
variations. Endocrine symptoms and drug adherence will be scored during interviews
with standardized questionnaires including the Greene Climacteric Scale (GCS), the
Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Endocrine subscale (FACT–ES)
questionnaire (Version 4), the Medication Possession Ratio. Polymorphisms in
significant target genes will be determined using commercial assays of saliva samples.
Participants will also maintain a logbook to record their intake of tamoxifen and any
other compounds, such as Chinese medicines, on a daily basis for 12 months.

In the past 3 months, our group has conducted a pilot study and successfully recruited
30 participants (response rate: 68.2%). Based on the data collected to date, some
allelic variations in some candidate SNPs, including ABCB1 rs1128503, UGT2B15
rs4148269, ABCC2 rs717620, CYP3A5 rs776746, CYP1A2 rs2470890, ABCC1
rs35628, CYP2B6 rs3745274, CYP2C19 rs4244285, showed considerably large
differences, with standardized mean differences of > 1 in endocrine-related symptom
score. This pilot study demonstrated the feasibility of recruitment and data collection.
The participants reported that the study design is simple and not time consuming.
This study will be the first to uncover any unique profile or gene(s) that are associated
with tamoxifen-related endocrine symptoms and other important outcomes. We will
pioneer exploration of the associations between genotypes, endocrine symptoms and
drug adherence in Chinese women with breast cancer.

1. Early Breast Cancer Trialists' Collaborative Group (EBCTCG) (2005). Effects of chemotherapy and hormonal therapy for early breast cancer on recurrence and 15- year survival: an overview of the randomized trials. Lancet 2005; 365: 1687-717.

2. Hershman, D.L., Shao, T., Kushi, L.H., Buono, D., Tsai, W.Y., Fehrenbacher, L., Kwan, M., Gomez, S.L., Neugut, A.I. (2011) Early discontinuation and non-adherence to adjuvant hormonal therapy are associated with increased mortality in women with breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 126: 529–537.

3. McCowan, C., Shearer, J., Donnan, P.T. (2008) Cohort study examining tamoxifen adherence and its relationship to mortality in women with breast cancer. British Journal of Cancer 99: 1763–1768.

4. Barron, T.I., Connolly, R., Bennett, K., Feely, J., Kennedy, M.J. (2007) Early discontinuation of tamoxifen: a lesson for oncologists. Cancer 109: 832–839.

5. Cluze, C., Rey, D., Huiart, L. (2012) Adjuvant endocrine therapy with tamoxifen in young women with breast cancer: determinants of interruptions vary over time. Annual Oncology 23:882-90.

6. Briest, S., Stearns, V. (2009) Tamoxifen metabolism and its effect on endocrine treatment of breast cancer. Clin Adv Hematol Oncol. 7:185–192.

7. Cronin-Fenton, D.P., Damkier, P., Lash, T.L. (2014) Metabolism and transport of tamoxifen in relation to its effectiveness: new perspectives on an ongoing controversy. Future Oncology 10:107–122.


Geriatric Oncology Care: Why is Geriatric Oncology Evolving as the Mainstream in Cancer Care?

November 30th, 2017 in ICNN Articles

A Perspective: Geriatric Oncology Becoming the Masterpiece of the Art of Oncology Care

By Cynthia Abarado DNP, APRN, GNP-BC; Independent Consultant, Sugar Land, Texas

Why is geriatric oncology evolving as the mainstream in cancer care?

The world’s population among people 60 years of age will increase from 900 million to 2 billion between 2015 and 2050, (World Health Organization, 2017).  In the USA, 60% of those affected by cancer are 65 years of age and older. This population also comprise most of deaths from cancer. There are insurmountable financial, personal and social costs involved in geriatric oncology care continuum. In addition, the impacts of health and aging generally have significant burden globally. Please see:  http://www.who.int/ageing/events/world-report-2015-launch/healthy-ageing-infographic.jpg?ua=1

The change in the tapestry of the population poses significant challenges on the care of older cancer patients. The advanced technology and diagnostics have improved early cancer detection and prevention leading to early treatment. At times, cancer is diagnosed at later stages affecting the treatment, goals of care and outcomes. The complexed care of cancer in an older patient is also affected by co morbidities. Recent improvements in treatment modalities have changed the trajectory of cancer illness posing significant financial, care-giving, acute and chronic care challenges. While there are issues in the management of cancer treatment, cancer-related symptoms there is also evidence of increased five-year survival.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2017), there are 15 million Americans alive today who had a diagnosis of cancer. The presence of co-morbidities among survivors makes the care of the older cancer patient even more complexed. A comprehensive geriatric care model is proposed to encourage nurses and other health team members ensure a well-coordinated care that promotes patient-centered, personalized care plan.

What are the unique attributes of the older cancer patient or population that are essential in a comprehensive geriatric oncology care?

The geriatric oncology patient or population has unique characteristics which can be the basis of identifying their needs, develop individualized plan of care that are meaningful to the patient and family, attain outcomes aligned with the patient goals and foster a patient-centered high-quality care. These attributes include biological, physiological, psychological, sociological, pharmacogenomics, and molecular components. Each attribute is unique to each older cancer patient. The support system of an older cancer patient determines the patient’s ability to cope cancer, cancer treatment and cancer treatment related side-effects. A person’s perception of his quality of life is significantly affected by his knowledge of his disease process, prognosis and goals of cancer treatment. Moreover, this population comes from diverse global and unique multicultural background influencing each individual’s perception of health, illness and quality of life.

Example of the Comprehensive Geriatric Oncology Care Assessment Model


Attributes Aspects of Attributes
Biological/ Physiological Cancer Diagnosis, Presence of co-morbid conditions, Geriatric Syndromes, Frailty
Psychological Depression, neurodevelopmental disabilities, psychiatric and behavioral conditions, dementia, cognition
Pharmacogenomics Drug allergies, drug interactions, laboratory evaluation
Pharmacy profile Polypharmacy, insurance profile re coverage
Social Profile Family/ community support, living arrangements, financial needs
Molecular Profile Genotype profile, histology and liquid biopsy profile

The model is based upon the assumption that the geriatric oncology population requires a comprehensive oncology care in the presence of co morbidities, frailty and geriatric syndromes. It is also based upon the knowledge that each geriatric oncology patient has unique characteristics unique to each subset of this population that would affect types and goals of treatment. The model views cancer care as complex. It requires collaboration and coordination across systems and locations. Moreover, the model is based upon the assumption of a collaboration between each health team member and functions within a multidisciplinary approach.

A perspective on the Proposed Comprehensive Geriatric Oncology Care Model

The comprehensive geriatric oncology care assessment proposed in this model uses the Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA) as a framework. CGA is defined as “multidisciplinary evaluation in which multiple problems of older persons are uncovered, described, and explained, if possible, and in which the resources and strengths of the person are catalogued, need for services assessed, and a coordinated care plan developed to focus in the person’s problems (Solomon, 1988). A meta-analysis analyzing 28 controlled trials of five types of geriatric assessments in various settings was done in 1993. It demonstrated that CGA programs that link geriatric assessment with strong long-term follow-up and management are effective for improving survival and functions in older adults (Suck, 1993). The utilization of CGA in cancer care has not been fully established. However, assessments of different components have been studied in various settings in Europe.

In this model, the geriatric oncology patient and population are the most important focus of care. The dynamic interactions between the environments, nurse, person to attain the state of health constantly changes. An assessment of the diverse attributes that is unique to each person utilizes several established tools that have established internal validity and have been utilized in different research endeavors. Biophysiological attributes include cancer diagnosis, geriatric syndromes, pain, fluid/electrolyte imbalances, abnormal biomarkers, cancer treatment related toxicities, co morbidities and educational needs related to disease process. The Symptom Distress Scale developed by McCorkle and Young has been widely used to assess symptom distress among oncology patients. It is reported to have a Cronbach’s alpha co-efficient of 0.70-0.92 (McCorkle, 2000). The role of co morbidity in cancer management and decision-making is yet to be studied more extensively in this population. Charlton Comorbidity Index and Cumulative illness rating scale index-geriatrics have been proposed to assess comorbidities although none has been validated for use in older adults with cancer. Psychological and sociocultural factors include depression, ineffective coping, lack of support systems, impaired self-care, lack of financial resources and educational needs. Utilization of the Geriatric Depression Scale has been recommended. It is reported to be 84% sensitive and 95% specific for diagnosing clinical depression. Assessment of social support is markedly important as it plays in a cancer patient’s health and linked to mortality. Caregiving in cancer has shifted to family members giving rise to caregiver burden. Caregiver Reaction Assessment is a 24-item instrument that assesses reactions of family members caring for older patients with physical impairments, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Utilization of Elder Assessment Instrument to review signs, symptoms, complaints of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation and abandonment among at risk population maybe warranted. Functional status can be measured Katz Index of Activities of Daily Living, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living and the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Performance Status (ECOG PS). Cognition includes assessment for dementia, delirium, decision-making ability and identification of a surrogate decision-maker. The Holstein Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is one of the most widely used. The Confusion Assessment Method (CAM) has been widely used and validated as an instrument for assessing delirium. Advance directives should be discussed initially or at an early stage of treatment but should not be mistaken as stopping treatments. Pharmacogenomics include assessments related to biomarkers, liver function tests and renal functions. These are necessary to adjust treatment doses and determine types of treatments. Pharmacy profile review includes evaluation for polypharmacy and identification of financial/ insurance coverage for treatments. Reconciliation of medications, review of medication interactions and incompatibilities are also important components of this aspect. This model could be utilized efficiently using evidence-based practice assessment tools with established internal validity and tested using randomized clinical trials. The comprehensive geriatric oncology assessment is also based on nursing process, interdisciplinary care approach and collaboration. It proposes utilization of assessment tools that have established internal validity and reliability to increase its internal and logical adequacy.

The utilization of this model could be expanded to other chronic care coordination programs. The model requires a comprehensive assessment and is multidimensional. Demonstration projects to measure that the application of a comprehensive geriatric oncology practice model would decrease overall cancer expenditure would be necessary. The economic impact of this model can also be demonstrated by decreased hospitalization and readmissions. Other outcome measures are related to decreased mortality from treatments and complication and most of all improved oncology care coordination through utilization of evidence-based guidelines and informatics.

Implications to Advanced Practice Nurses

I have used this model in an acute care setting. Roy’s Adaptation Model plays a role in some aspects of my practice model. Nursing process and nursing interventions are the fundamental guiding principles. Future nursing research based upon the model could investigate the impact of evidence-based cancer care management on survivorship of cancer patients particularly among the older population. The global consultative role of the DNP based on this model could open opportunities for the DNP. Overall the application of this model expands the role of the DNP to a global health care environment for geriatric oncology patients.


The Comprehensive Geriatric Oncology Care Model proposes the comprehensive geriatric oncology assessment, a modified version of the CGA to be incorporated in cancer care. Assessment of the specific domains using established tools would lead to a comprehensive care plan and efficient care coordination across systems. The model is multidimensional and utilizes chronic care model, application of nursing process.

The Challenges

There is a need for more educational training among nurses to care for older patients with cancer. The use of assessment tools to evaluate each attribute of older patient eith cancer require special training among multidisciplinary team members. Although using a comprehensive geriatric care model is a tedious process, identification of problems during initial assessment of each attribute can lead to safe, timely, effective, efficient, patient centered and equitable quality of care throughout the cancer care continuum.

Opportunities and Resources

The proposed Comprehensive Geriatric Oncology Care Model can be applied to daily clinical practice, nurse navigation, case management, and global care coordination.

Some resources for geriatric oncology are available on the following websites:






Opportunity, Sharing and Collaboration – ICCN 2017

November 23rd, 2017 in ICNN Articles

The International Conference on Cancer Nursing (ICCN 2017)  was held in Anaheim, CA, USA with the theme ‘Merging Research and Practice across the Globe’. In total, five nursing staff from Zhejiang Cancer Hospital of China attended the conference, including Wan-ying Wu, Zi-fang Jiang, Yi Tu, Guan-mian Liang, and Xia Shen. Four delivered oral presentations, one was poster presenter. This multidisciplinary team was comprised of nursing managers, medical professionals, administrating experts who actively participated in the whole process. What was shared regarding cancer clinical practice, administration experience, as well as research findings were highly appraised and was a great deal of interest to each of them. The following is a short interview of their experience at ICCN 2017.

Interviewer: Hi guys, what do you think of this conference?

Wu: I was really excited about this meeting. It remains one of the most important opportunities for cancer nurses across the globe to share our experiences and network. This is an amazing program which highlights how cancer nurses’ advance and continue to interpret evidence into practice.

Jiang: This was actually the second time I have attended ICCN. The highlight was meeting acquaintances and making new friends and colleagues to collaborate with. My topic was “The qualitative research of sexual status in breast cancer patients”.

Liang: My presentation was focused on “how to motivate nurses on continuing nursing education”. I attended seven presentations including professional issues, methods /measurements/tool development and quality & safety. They were all very interesting and I feel I really benefited a lot by attending ICCN 2017.

Tu: This was a fabulous chance that I could exchange ideas on cancer nursing with other representatives who were engaged in the same research areas.

Shen: I was so honored and excited when I received the invitation from the Conference Organizing Committee as an oral presenter. I could share what we’ve done for our patients with cancer nursing experts from all over the world. I suppose it will be one of the most unforgettable memories for me. By having access to the cutting-edge advances in cancer care, I was able to broaden my horizon and seek cooperation opportunities with other delegates in the future.

Photo: Five delegates from Zhejiang Cancer Hospital of China

Author: Xia Shen

Head Nurse, Abdominal Surgery Department of Zhejiang Cancer Hospital, China