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Nursing the Person with Cancer: A Book for all Nurses

Two in every three Australians will be touched by cancer in their lifetimes, either personally or through a close family member. Cancer has a historical reputation for being a killer disease, a death sentence. This is reflected in the colloquial meanings attributed to the word ‘cancer’. Although most types of cancer have eluded a medical cure, more than 50 per cent of people diagnosed with cancer today go on to live for five years or more. This has meant a partial shift in nursing practice, to including rehabilitation along with acute care and palliation as a care delivery model. Cancer is a chronic illness managed by multidisciplinary teams in the same way as diabetes and arthritis. Although it has continued to hold its terrifying power, a cancer diagnosis can be managed by patients and their families with the support of the nurse.

On first glance, the chapters of this book appear to have no clear connection. There is no reference to the systems of the body, the stages of disease, the types of medical treatment, or the technical care of the person with cancer. Rather, each chapter discloses information that cannot be readily found in standard cancer nursing textbooks. This books reflects the widely held view that cancer nursing is more than medically related care. It focuses on the person, what the experience of cancer means to that person, and how the nurse can help. Communication is the continuous thread that links each chapter.

The communication skills of the nurse are invaluable in guiding individuals and families along their journey through the cancer experience. The communication skills required in caring for those experiencing cancer are not specialist skills; they are the simple skills of listening, reflecting, and providing accurate information. All registered nurses possess these skills.

By reading the chapters in this book, the nurse will be exposed to refreshing perspectives on the cancer experience. The ideas raised in the book can be reflected on and discussed with colleagues for further development. The practical suggestions from many authors can be integrated into the practice of specialist and generalist alike, to improve the quality of nursing care for the person with cancer.

Cancer nursing is a fully fledged specialty in Australia as evidenced by the steady development of a unified national cancer nursing association, known as the Cancer Nurses Society of Australia. The appearance of this book is a sign that cancer nurses are confident to document and share their specialist experiences and knowledge. The authors in this book challenge each of us to expand our knowledge of the cancer experience and, through the application of basic communication skills, support persons and families throughout the cancer experience.

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Contents include

  • Dispelling myths, imparting knowledge -- a guide to client education
  • Challenges and opportunities -- educating the nurse for cancer care
  • The importance of communication and the provision of information in patient care
  • Breaking bad news
  • Hope -- the inner strength
  • Cancer and sexuality -- a neglected issue?
  • Cancer pain -- providing solutions for current problems
  • Assessing and knowing the person with cancer
  • Caring
  • Ethical challenges for cancer nurses
  • Spirituality -- the essence of cancer care
  • Palliative care -- an integrated part of cancer care
  • Caregiver support
  • Multiculturalism -- implications for cancer care
  • Exploring the boundries of oncological nursing practice

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Author / Editor Biographies

GradCert (Advanced Nursing Cancer/Palliative Care Nursing), Cert (Cancer Nursing), RN, MRCNA.
Gordon began his nursing career in 1979, and has worked predominantly in oncology since commencing employment at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute in 1980 as a State Enrolled Nurse. After completing his General Nursing Training at Box Hill Hospital in Melbourne in 1985, Gordon returned to the Cancer Institute where he has been involved in a variety of cancer care areas. Following the completion of a Certificate in Cancer Nursing at the Institute in 1988, Gordon worked for six years as a Clinical Nurse Consultant in the chemotherapy unit. During this time he was given the responsibility of c...


Established in 1987, Ausmed Publications is the print publishing arm of Ausmed Education, a company is dedicated to producing high quality healthcare education in the form of: Seminars and Conferences, Online Resources, Video Learning Activities and Textbooks.

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