In an oncologic emergency, nurses must intervene quickly to prevent life-threatening complications and save lives. This is especially important given that the incidence of oncologic emergencies increases along with the number of people diagnosed with cancer.

According to Suzanne Brady, RN, BSN, CCRN, the Nursing Staff Executive Council at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, determined the need existed to provide nurses with the most current information available regarding emergencies in cancer patients. To address that need, a day-long oncologic emergencies educational program was held to provide registered nurses in a comprehensive cancer center and the surrounding community with an overview of the signs, symptoms, and nursing management of the following oncologic emergencies: malignant pleural effusions, tumor lysis syndrome, sepsis, increased intracranial pressure, and superior vena cava syndrome, Brady noted in a presentation at the Oncology Nursing Society 36th Annual Congress.

Speakers at the oncologic emergencies educational program included three doctors, a staff development instructor, and a nurse practitioner. The program offered 5.25 continuing nursing education credits. Members of the Nursing Staff Executive Council were involved in planning, advertising, and hosting the event, which was attended by 59 nurses.

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Attendee evaluation of the program revealed the goal of increasing awareness of oncologic emergencies had been met. Comments about the program included, “good presentation,” and “very informative.”

“By providing education to nurses and the community we can recognize and intervene in these emergencies earlier and may even save a life,” the researchers concluded.