Brenda Nevidjon, MSN, RN, FAAN
An aging population, a predicted shortage of cancer care professionals, and an ever-increasing repertoire of cancer diagnostic and treatment modalities are trends shaping the future of cancer care in the United States. The large baby boomer generation is entering the decades in which cancer is more prevalent, and although cancer incidence may not increase, patient volume will increase given the size of this generation. Life expectancy continues to increase, and people who have had cancer are living longer with and without active disease. Cancer survivors exceed 10 million in the United States. A projected nursing shortage indicates that by 2020, our healthcare organizations will be experiencing significant challenges in staffing. Our physician colleagues also see their own shortages in the future. The science of cancer continues to expand, and cancer care continues to be decentralized to community settings, not provided only in academic cancer centers.
Nurses will always have a central role in cancer care. Given the above trends, an urgent need exists for more oncology nurses and for more nurses who are knowledgeable about caring for people with cancer. In the history of the oncology nursing specialty, we once preferred that new graduates have general medical-surgical experience before specializing in oncology, but that no longer is the norm. New graduates now begin their careers in all oncology settings. Nurses who do not identify themselves as oncology nurses take care of people with cancer. Experienced nurses change specialties and must gain new knowledge. Cancer Basics will be an excellent resource to all these nurses.
When I began as an oncology nurse, there was no “book” from which to learn about cancer from a nursing perspective. We learned from medical textbooks and what articles could be found in general journals. I still have the first oncology nursing textbook I purchased in 1981. Many oncology nursing textbooks, both all-encompassing and specific, have been published since, and the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) has published many. However, this is the first book that ONS has published for the “new to oncology” nurse and is an exciting contribution to the ONS library of books.
As I conclude my ONS presidency, I am pleased to applaud editor Julie Eggert and the cancer nurse experts who have written Cancer Basics. This book is a must-have resource for orienting new nurses to cancer care and will also benefit educators and students who want an increased understanding of cancer. It provides a comprehensive overview of the cancer experience from the biologic to the psychosocial, from traditional treatment modalities to clinical trials and complementary and alternative therapies, from diagnosis to survivorship, and much more. Cancer Basics should become the standard nursing reference for meeting the needs of patients and families experiencing cancer.