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Sponsor: MD Anderson at forefront of immunotherapy cancer treatment

April 30, 2018

Immunotherapy is an innovative new approach to cancer treatment that uses the body’s own natural defenses to fight the disease. While immunotherapy offers great promise to patients and has produced great results, it is still in clinical trials.

Because MD Anderson has the largest clinical trials program in the world for cancer, the cancer center is at the forefront of developing these therapies in the lab and treating patients with the new drugs.

Likewise, MD Anderson’s nursing force has taken the lead in developing care standards, checklists and education programs since immunotherapy has emerged as a possible new pillar of treatment for cancer.

Educational efforts

“The use of immune effector therapy has been limited to specific inpatient units, allowing us to focus our educational efforts for nursing staff. The education covers all immune effector cell products being used, and includes possible side effects or adverse reactions, monitoring requirements and documentation,” said Ginny Bowman, director of clinical nursing at MD Anderson. “Our team worked collaboratively to ensure all pertinent information was shared with staff, including a plan for ongoing education. As a result, we now have a standardized approach for nursing education that can be used to educate new staff as the use of these therapies increases.”

MD Anderson’s nursing team has not only participated in the development and implementation of care standards, but contributed to the science and evolution of the field of immunotherapy.

“We have research nurses who manage the protocols, providing valuable support and education to patients and ensuring the data is managed and reported appropriately. The nurses at the bedside caring for these patients provide critical feedback to investigators about side effects and patient management,” Bowman said. “Nurses are sharing their experiences with other professionals and networking with oncology nurses across the country to exchange ideas and best practices.”