Of specialized nurse educators and prostate cancer care planning

There appears to be an increasing appreciation of the value of the specialty nurse in the coordination of the education, guidance, and care planning of newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients.

Madsen et al. have reported on the evolutionary role of an advanced practice nurse (APN) with specialized oncology experience at the multi-disciplinary prostate cancer clinic (MPCC) at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center since 2006. The MPCC at M. D. Anderson was initially set up in 2004, and has been developed to present all potentially appropriate treatment options to newly diagnosed patients in a single setting. The APN was recruited in 2006 to address specific objectives, including:

  • Implementation of a quality-of-life protocol to all patients
  • Provision of detailed patient education (including a patient-specific treatment summary and care plan)
  • The need for a single point of contact for patients as they moved toward a treatment decision.

The authors report that recent, formal evaluation of the MPCC showed that patients were satisfied with this approach to the complex decision-making process in prostate cancer. The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink notes that this system corresponds to other developing systems in which a nurse educator is heavily involved in the process of helping patients come to the most appropriate decision regarding their care — hopefully without the inherent educational biases of surgeons, radiation oncologists, and other specialists. Whether it is possible to move such a system easily from academic and hospital-based centers out into the community may be more challenging, however.

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