European Cancer Congress 2013
Live report: Day 1

Day 1 of the European Cancer Congress opened with the Oncology Nursing Opening and Award Session: the formal opening of the oncology nursing track and the recognition of outstanding work in nursing. Birgitte Grube and Erik van Muilekom, outgoing and incoming EONS Presidents, greeted a packed room as they welcomed oncology nurses to the conference - and to Amsterdam.

Keynote speech : Mark Johnson

The keynote speech was from Mark Johnson, who described awareness of diversity as a “critical safety issue” in nursing. Estee Lauder can advertise skin cream as “suitable for all ethnicities”. Can we say the same about oncology nursing? Professor Johnson believes that continuing professional development and policy-making must stay in step with the latest knowledge about diversity, or we risk excluding some patients from good-quality healthcare.

Lifetime Achievement Award 2013

Shelley Dolan wins the EONS Lifetime Achievement Award 2013
Shelley Dolan wins the EONS Lifetime Achievement Award 2013

The EONS Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by Mary Wells. The deserving recipient was Shelley Dolan, described as “a true advocate” for oncology nurses.

Major Research Grant: report back

Vicky Cleary presented on her research topic at ECC 2013
Vicky Cleary presented on her research topic at ECC 2013

Next we heard from Vicky Cleary of Ireland, who won the EONS Major Research Grant in 2010 and was reporting back on the work she did with that grant. She used the funding to develop an information intervention for women with gynaecological cancer.

Clinical Travel Grant: report back

Gianluca Catania presents work funded by the EONS Clinical Travel Grant 2012
Gianluca Catania presents work funded by the EONS Clinical Travel Grant 2012

Finally we heard from Gianluca Catania of Italy, winner of the EONS Clinical Travel Grant 2012. He used the funding to work on research into quality of life indicators for hospice patients.

Oncology Nursing Scientific Symposium

The opening session was followed by a scientific symposium on The Impact of Cancer - Exploring Complexity and Special Needs in Specific Cancers. EONS Board Members Francoise Charnay-Sonnek and Mary Wells chaired the session.

Proffered Papers Session: Nursing - Advanced Roles

At the same time there was a session on nursing roles, with eight short talks centring around the role of the nurse in cancer treatment. It began with a talk from M Bianchi of Switzerland about Peripherally Inserted Central Catheters (PICCs) : a nurse innovation implemented by a multidisciplinary team. Three of the talks were about an exciting new piece of medical technology: the telephone. M Rihuete showed research indicating that telephone follow-ups increase patient adherence to cancer patients. Charlotte Pihlmann of Denmark discussed her findings that a telephone hotline for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer can improve the patient experience. Suzanne Moiniche, also of Denmark, discussed her experiment in replacing outpatient visits before chemotherapy with a telephone call.

All three presentations about telephones made similar findings: that phone contact can reduce patient anxiety and actually save healthcare resources by reducing the number of unnecessary face-to-face consultations. Moiniche also found that phone consultations tended to be shorter - an average of 20 minutes rather than the 100 minutes for a face-to-face pre-chemotherapy consultation. Perhaps this is because if a patient doesn’t have to travel, they don’t feel the need to make a consultation “worth the journey” by asking a lot of questions. Patients in all three studies reported satisfaction with the telephone contact.

We also heard from Alessandra Milani about a pilot scheme using mobile tablets for nurse e-learning in the workplace, from E Elfrink about oncology nursing research and from Rob Kuin about the use of a phase model clinical pathway.

Carol Farrell of the UK spoke about nurses’ roles in nurse-led chemotherapy clinics, and said that nurses should focus on nursing-specific skills rather than just replacing doctors: “When you duplicate doctors’ work, you lose the nursing approach.” She pointed out that communications training is still not seen as an essential skill on the level of prescribing and ended with advice: “We need to do what’s best for the patient, not just fit in with or copy the doctor. Nurses need to lead, not just follow.” That need for nursing leadership and innovation is bound to be a theme for the sessions to come.