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Resources support excellent patient care

The internet provides a wealth of information on all topics imaginable. Health professional education to support cancer patients is no exception, and a Google search of these words provides 122,000,000 choices. While the quantity of this information is impressive, it is difficult to comment on its quality.

Recognizing the importance of quality and easily accessible health professional resources, Cancer Care Nova Scotia (CCNS) has recently reorganized the health professional section of its website to make it easier for health professionals to find the resources they need to support patient teaching.

CCNS Web resources include: patient education standards and guidelines, orientation booklets for newly diagnosed patients, medication information sheets, the Living Well with Cancer patient education series, sources of patient information in languages other than English and a list of reputable websites. All are designed to support health professionals in meeting their patients’ educational needs. The information is regularly updated and new resources are added as needed. 


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Just as new knowledge prompts practice change, it also prompts the need for new and different education resources to support that change in practice. One example is the growing use of oral systemic therapy (cancer treatment taken in pill form instead of it being delivered intravenously in hospital). Because taking oral systemic therapy can be more convenient for patients, it is sometimes perceived as being safer and less toxic. In fact, this is not always the case. Oral systemic therapy can be as toxic as the drugs that are delivered intravenously, and since patients are at home, without the assessment and monitoring they receive in clinic, they actually need detailed patient education about their medication, its side effects and a plan for ongoing monitoring by their health care team. A new resource available on the CCNS website, Oral Chemotherapy: a Guide for Patients and families, is designed to support patient teaching related to the safe self-administration of oral systemic therapy.

Another new resource, also on the CCNS website, Cytotoxic Precautions: a Guide for Home – a Guide for cancer patients and families, is designed to support patient teaching for patients receiving oral and/or IV systemic therapy. This resource explains the steps to follow to ensure the necessary precautions are taken to protect family and loved ones from contact with the medication or a patient’s body fluids.

The development process for these materials included reaching out to patients and families to ensure their unique perspectives were considered. Members of CCNS’s Cancer Patient Family Network reviewed early drafts of both Cytotoxic Precautions at Home and Oral Systemic Therapy resources. They provided insightful feedback, including advice on how to make instructions as easy as possible to follow. Their suggestions were incorporated into the final versions of these resources.

We welcome your comments and questions about any of the educational resources on the CCNS website, including any gaps in the information available.
If you have comments or questions, please email us at ccns.nshealth.ca or call 1-866-599-2267.

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