Successful management of patients with neuroendocrine tumors generally focuses on keeping patients disease- and symptom-free for as long as possible.1
The more patients share their symptoms and comorbidities, the more nurses like you can help
Having an open dialogue with patients becomes especially critical when discussing ongoing symptoms. Successful dialogue starts with education—the more patients know about NETs, the more they'll be able to communicate with their nurse.
You can start by assessing each patient's baseline understanding of NETs.
- Do they research NETs on the Internet?
- Do they attend a NET support group?
- Do they belong to any local, regional, or national NET patient advocacy groups?
Also, consider checking to see whether patients have any unanswered questions about their disease.
- Encourage them to take notes during your discussion
- Recommend that they bring a caregiver to future appointments
- Provide information on local support groups
- Suggest reliable sources of information to them, such as
The nurse's role during each appointment
You may gather clues about changes in your patient's health status by asking probing questions regarding the impact of NETs on their daily living.
- Find out about the patient's day-to-day routines
- Ask whether the patient has made any changes to the way he or she goes about daily activities since the time of diagnosis
- Take note of any changes the patient has made, and report this information to the oncologist
One way to learn more about the impact of NETs on your patients is to have them monitor symptoms and health changes between appointments with a tracking tool. This may give you a clearer picture of each patient's status and provide important supplemental information to routine tests.
Download a symptom tracker that helps patients actively and accurately monitor their NET symptoms on a weekly basis.
Even if patients self-monitor, try to be persistent when asking about symptoms. Some patients may not initially mention certain symptoms they don't associate with their NETs.
- Encourage patients to monitor and keep track of any and all symptoms
- Remind them to be as accurate and thorough as possible when recording symptoms at home
- Encourage patients to bring detailed information to each appointment
Stress the importance of contacting the office when symptoms worsen or a new symptom is experienced, even if the patient thinks it might not be related to the tumor.
Remember: the more patients feel like they have an instrumental role in the management of their disease, the more likely they will be to actively participate in their care.
Empowering patients to take control
With each visit, you can also emphasize how important it is for the patient to
- Adhere to the agreed-upon care plan
- Keep thorough records, including test results and management history
- Review patient-friendly resources to learn as much as possible about NETs
- Explore the existing network of advocacy groups
- Maintain a positive attitude