No Questions for Nurses Off-Limits for Patients with Lung Cancer


As part of its Speaking Out video series, CURE® spoke with Lisa Carter-Bawa of Hackensack Meridian Health about the role nurses play in helping patients manage treatment side effects.

For patients with lung cancer, nurses play a vital role, particularly in managing treatment side effects, according to Lisa Carter-Bawa, director of the Cancer Prevention Precision Control Institute at the Center for Discovery and Innovation at Hackensack Meridian Health.

Speaking with CURE® as part of the “Speaking Out” video series, Carter-Bawa emphasized the importance of effective communication between patients and their nursing teams, highlighting the necessity of patients feeling comfortable to ask questions and express concerns.

“When you're diagnosed with cancer … that's overwhelming in and of itself,” said Carter-Bawa. “And when you get home and you sit down, [if] you're really thinking, 'You know, it went in one ear and out the other,' nurses do not mind having you asked the same question repeatedly until you understand, because it helps them help you to be a partner in your own care. So, I think there are no questions that are off limits.”

Carter-Bawa outlined some of the common side effects associated with recently approved treatments for lung cancer, particularly immunotherapies. These treatments, which are designed to harness the body's immune system to treat cancer, have become a cornerstone in lung cancer therapy. However, they can also bring about a range of side effects, including fatigue, skin rash, gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and flu-like symptoms including fever and muscle pain. Additionally, thyroid dysfunction may occur, presenting as either overactivity or underactivity of the thyroid gland.

Nurses, Carter-Bawa said, have the knowledge and expertise to explain medical procedures and treatment plans to patients in a clear, understandable manner, minus complex medical jargon. By providing patients with comprehensive information and addressing their concerns, nurses empower patients to actively participate in their care journey. This engagement, in turn, can contribute to improved treatment adherence and patient satisfaction.

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