Five to ten percent of patients with cancer will need to visit the intensive care unit (ICU) for a life-threatening condition. In fact, estimates suggest that nearly 30% of patients with esophageal cancer or acute leukemia and those undergoing allogenic stem cell transplantation will need ICU care.
Although many patients with cancer in the ICU have similar conditions to those without cancer, numerous cancer-specific conditions can impact the critically ill. These unique conditions require a focused, multidisciplinary effort between oncology nurses and critical care practitioners. By knowing the telltale signs and complications of treatment, oncology nurses can monitor symptoms, coordinate care, and provide a seamless transition for their patients who are critically ill.