From The Editor December 2023

TON - December 2023 Vol 16, No 6
Catherine Bishop, DNP, NP-C, AOCNP
Hematology/Oncology Nurse Practitioner

We are pleased to present the December issue of The Oncology Nurse-APN/PA (TON), a journal specifically designed to educate and inform nurses, navigators, and advanced practice providers who work tirelessly to care for patients affected by cancer.

We begin this issue with an interview with Sherry Looker, BSN, RN, OCN, Nursing Manager, Cancer Treatment Unit, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. During our discussion, Ms Looker discussed what inspired her to choose a career in nursing, how she approaches her day-to-day responsibilities at the center, what she feels are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of her job, and how she maintains a healthy life/work balance. She also shared a heart-warming story of how she and her team employed the services of a special therapy dog named Lily to help a patient with autism remain calm during his chemotherapy treatments (see here).

“Sometimes, as a team, we need to deal with challenging situations, but it is very rewarding when we work together to overcome them,” Ms Looker told TON.

Turning our attention to the care of elderly patients with cancer, we feature an overview of recent updates to the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s guidelines for the assessment and management of vulnerabilities in patients aged ≥65 years who are receiving systemic treatment. Notably, these updated recommendations reiterate the importance of conducting comprehensive geriatric assessments (GAs) on older individuals with cancer, which, in some cases, may allow them to undergo less intensive therapy (see here).

“Clinically, the most important conclusion is that it is essential to do a GA for older adults with cancer to provide appropriate care when considering systemic therapy; when GA-guided management is compared with SOC [standard of care], it clearly leads to significantly less chemotherapy toxicity and improves adherence to chemotherapy,” wrote William Dale, MD, PhD, and colleagues.

Next, we address the topic of frequent and heavy alcohol consumption in patients undergoing active treatment and cancer survivors, including the negative consequences of this behavior on clinical outcomes. According to results from a recent study published in JAMA Network Open, which sought to shine a spotlight on this issue, many individuals receiving anticancer treatment as well as longer-term survivors reported that they drink alcohol on a regular basis, some with greater frequently than others. An especially concerning finding was that male long-term cancer survivors and younger patients undergoing treatment are among those who tend to drink frequently and/or heavily, which the investigators asserted should be a “wake-up call” for all professionals involved in cancer care (see here).

Additional topics in this issue of TON include the critical role of nutrition guidance interventions in female cancer survivors undergoing fertility treatments (see here); a possible connection between the use of a commonly prescribed benzodiazepine and poorer outcomes in patients with pancreatic cancer (see here); a new report documenting the value of generic and biosimilar drugs for patients with cancer and other diseases (see here); and results from 2 studies evaluating the accuracy of artificial intelligence chatbots when it comes to providing treatment recommendations and direct-to-patient cancer advice (see here).

And as in every issue, we have included a roundup of new oncology drugs and new indications recently approved by the FDA.

We hope that you will enjoy this issue, and we invite you to visit to share your feedback with us. You can also send an email with any questions or comments you may have to And, as the year comes to an end, we at TON wish our readers a happy and healthy 2024!

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