My patient is receiving immunotherapy. What is the best tool for assessing side effects? — Name withheld on request

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) Common Toxicity Criteria (CTC) has been the standard for adverse event (AE) reporting in the oncology community since 1982. By utilizing one instrument to grade side effects, assessments are thought to be more objective rather than subjective. In addition, the tool allows all members of the interdisciplinary team to communicate side effects using the same language.

Oncology nurses have a responsibility to assess, grade, and report side effects patients may experience while receiving immunotherapy. Tracking and documenting side effects can assist with management and allow patients to stay on treatment.

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The NCI’s Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) was updated (Version 5.0) and published November 27, 2017. This latest version can be downloaded from here: https://ctep.cancer.gov/protocolDevelopment/electronic_applications/docs/CTCAE_v5_Quick_Reference_8.5×11.pdf— Leah A. Scaramuzzo, MSN, RN-BC, AOCN