Cancer nurses may choose to specialise in the care of particular populations of people with cancer, such as breast cancer. The role of the Specialist Breast Care Nurse (referred to as the breast care nurse or BCN) has been described for more than two decades.
BCNs are core members of the MDT, and they:28
- provide specialist physical and psychological support
- coordinate the passage of women from diagnosis through to therapy
- identify and facilitate referral for counselling
- collaborate to establish and strengthen links and feedback between women and the treatment team.
Several studies report that a person with breast cancer who has had access to a BCN is more likely to:29
- report less psychological distress
- have a better comprehension of their treatment
- be more aware of supportive resources.
Access the Cochrane review, Specialist breast care nurses for supportive care of women with breast cancer29 and summarise the key areas in which interventions carried out by BCNs improved quality of life outcomes for women with breast cancer.
If you are able, contact a BCN and ask them about the key domains of their role.
Differentiate the roles of the following health professionals involved in the care of women with breast cancer:
- Cancer care coordinator
- Breast care nurse (BCN)
- Specialist cancer nurse (SCN).
Discuss strategies that the various nursing health professionals involved in breast cancer care can use to ensure a coordinated team approach to care.
Libby's story 3: specialist breast cancer nurses
Discuss the main priority areas which would be included in Annie's (Breast care nurse) care planning at the time of Libby's new diagnosis.
Describe how this care plan may vary from that developed for a heterosexual female in an urban setting.
Discuss strategies for promoting effective communication between Annie and other members of the MDT, including other nurses, at this point in Libby's care.