The Nursing Process in Cancer Treatment


The nursing process is a sequence of actions performed by nurses of various specialties when caring for one patient. By combining these processes into one line, nurses provide a holistic approach to treatment. Typically, the nursing process includes five phases assessment, diagnosis, outcomes/planning, implementation, and evaluation. This paper aims to discuss some aspects of cancer treatment, and how it can be performed using the five stages nursing process.

Diagnosis and Staging of Cancer

The diagnosis can include several elements, such as a screening test that helps determine what is causing the symptoms. The doctor can also ask the patient for a medical history, conduct additional laboratory tests, and scan. The most commonly used and reliable method is a biopsy, as it almost certainly allows you to find out if a patient has cancer (“How cancer is diagnosed,” 2021). The stage determines the degree of cancer development, as well as the size of the tumor, and its prevalence in the body (“The nursing process,” 2021). Understanding the stage of cancer allows the doctor to determine the severity of the disease, the chances of survival, and plan treatment. At the same time, each of the stages of cancer may correspond to the types of newest clinical trials that the doctor will suggest undergoing as a treatment.

Typically, the diagnosis of cancer is referred to as the stage at which the disease was at the time of diagnosis. If the disease worsens, in the diagnosis the name of the initial stage is supplemented with information about the changes. The stage can usually be determined after passing tests, laboratory tests, or x-rays. Cancer staging systems describe information about where the tumor is located, its size, cell type, and whether cancer has spread to another part of the body and lymph nodes. Cell types include adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma; the stage of the tumor can also determine the likelihood of tumor growth and spread. The TNM staging system is most widely used for various types of cancers such as blood or spinal cord cancers. In the TNM staging system, T stands for the degree and size of the underlying or primary tumor, N stands for how many lymph nodes have been affected by cancer, and M stands for the presence or absence of metastases.

Side Effects of Cancer Treatment

Because cancer is treated with powerful chemotherapy drugs that try to destroy its cells, these drugs usually have side effects. Treatment can damage healthy cells, and the nature of the side effects differs for different types of flow. The most common side effects are neutropenia, lymphedema, nausea, and vomiting. Neutropenia occurs when the body’s white blood cell count drops significantly after chemotherapy. Because of this, the body’s immunity decreases, and the resistance to diseases decreases.

Lymphedema occurs if a patient has lymph nodes removed by surgery or if they are damaged by radiation therapy. Lymphedema refers to a condition where lymphatic fluid does not drain properly and builds up under the skin. At the same time, chemotherapy can cause hair loss due to the destruction of hair follicles (“Side effects of cancer treatment, 2021”). Nausea and vomiting are often caused by chemotherapy drugs, and as a rule, during the entire course of treatment, patients are forced to suffer from feeling unwell caused to nausea.

Yearly Incidence and Mortality Rates in Americans

In the United States, cancer is a very common cause of death for hundreds of thousands of people. In 2019, 599,601 people died of cancer, making this the second most fatal disease (“An update on cancer deaths,” 2021). Notably, cancer prevention programs through screening and other preventive measures are likely to be working, as, over the past 10 years, the death rate has dropped by 27% to 146.8 deaths per 100,000 population (“An update on cancer deaths,” 2021). The healthcare system plans to continue to reduce this figure following the goals of the Healthy People by 2030 program, which aims to reduce the mentioned level to 122.7 deaths per 100 thousand population.

Mortality is declining faster among men than among women, but mortality is still higher among men. The most common causes of cancer deaths in 2019 included lung, colon, rectal, pancreatic, and female breast and prostate cancers with 23%, 9%, 8%, 7%, and 5% respectively (“An update on cancer deaths,” 2021 ). Deaths from cancer of the liver and intrahepatic bile ducts account for another 5% of the cancer death rate. Therefore, screening and public awareness programs should be revised considering the above statistics, since many types of cancer can be eradicated at an early stage if they are detected by screening.

American Cancer Society

ACS has plenty of programs and strategies for cancer control and disease prevention. The program specialists draw attention to the fact that today every third person is diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. In particular, the site publishes research and news on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle in preventing cancer progression. For example, healthy eating reduces the likelihood of developing cancer of the digestive organs, as well as physical activity (“American Cancer Society,” 2021). At the same time, if you abstain from tobacco use, the likelihood of developing lung cancer almost completely disappears, as does the development of cancer from HPV when this virus is prevented.

The website of the program provides a list of screening tests performed to prevent various types of cancer. There is also a fundraising campaign for the treatment and prevention of cancer in children. The web page provides advice on understanding the diagnosis, treatment, and side effects, and assists in psychological acceptance of the impending end of life and the need for survival. There is also information presented interactively and infographics named tobacco atlas and cancer atlas. The American Cancer Society runs many programs and coordinates various projects, providing volunteer assistance.

Nursing Process in Cancer Treatment – Five Stages

The nursing process usually includes five phases, namely the assessment, diagnosis, outcomes or planning, implementation, and evaluation. The evaluation phase is the period when the nurse collects general information about the patient, and his sociological, psychological, and physiological status. This information can be obtained from a conversation with the patient during the first appointment (“The five steps of the nursing process,” 2021). Other sources of patient information include medical history, physical examinations, and general observation. Then, in the diagnostic phase, the nurse makes a complex diagnosis or multiple diagnoses. This phase includes symptoms, a description of the problem, and the risk of developing associated symptoms or illnesses. At this stage, the course of intervention and subsequent treatment is determined.

During the planning phase, the nurse and patient develop an action plan. The nurse reviews the diagnosis or diagnoses and highlights the health risks and most serious symptoms. Using the classification, the health worker sets goals following the objectives of each of the problems and risks. By using standardized terms and measurable goals, planning is convenient and clear. During the implementation phase, the nurse follows the previously developed plan by completing each of the points.

The health worker monitors changes and takes care of the patient directly in this phase. The patient also receives instructions and advice on self-care and an invitation to the next appointment; this phase can last several hours to several months. Finally, the evaluation phase features writing a progress report on previous phases and recording the patient’s health outcomes. The three classified terms evaluating the patient’s health are improved, died, or discharged. In other words, the patient continues to stay in the hospital until his condition improves and the doctors return to the first stage.

The Role of Liberal Arts and Science Studies in Nursing Knowledge

Liberal arts improve the communication skills of nurses and help them make more informed decisions when it comes to personality, social, or spiritual background. Therefore, nurses study the humanities, as well as mathematics, social and physical sciences, and science studies. Math can be useful when working with different formulas or when mastering technical tools. At the same time, chemistry and physics are needed for a complete understanding of biology and complex biochemical processes. Social sciences such as cultural studies or ethics allow us to pay conscious attention to the patient’s life circumstances.

For example, during the treatment of patients with cancer, nurses need to understand the essence of the processes taking place in the patient’s body, including side effects. In this way, they will provide a comprehensive assessment of the situation and better achieve treatment goals. Social sciences are also useful during cancer treatment, as communication and psychological relief of the patient is an important part of the nursing process. But without understanding the patient’s values and social issues, the nurse will not be able to provide emotional support. At the same time, knowledge of the basics of religion allows you to understand the peculiarities of the patient’s spiritual worldview, which is very important at the terminal stages of treatment.


Thus, some aspects of the cancer treatment were discussed, and how it can be performed using the five stages nursing process. A nursing process is a unique tool that helps nurses build a line of work with patients from the moment they arrive at the hospital until the moment they are discharged. It consists of five stages, and this division helps to perform very clear, and specific work. The use of a five-step system also avoids medical errors and achieves treatment goals. In cancer treatment, nurses begin with an assessment of the patient’s health, which includes a series of tests to identify the disease and confirmatory tests. The nurse then diagnoses and plans treatment, performs the treatment, and evaluates. It is noteworthy that if the patient does not recover, the whole process is carried out from the beginning. Cancer treatment is an urgent problem in the United States, where almost a third of people receive this diagnosis during their lifetime. Various organizations, such as the ACA, are helping to implement volunteer initiatives to reduce the incidence of disease in the population by promoting healthy lifestyles.


American Cancer Society. (2021).

An update on cancer deaths in the United States. (2021). CDC.

Cancer staging. (2021). National Cancer Institute.

Side effects of cancer treatment. (2021). CDC.

The five steps of the nursing process. (2021). Nursing Process.

The nursing process. (2021). ANA.

How cancer is diagnosed. (2021). National Cancer Institute.

Cite this paper

Select style


NursingBird. (2023, January 2). The Nursing Process in Cancer Treatment. Retrieved from


NursingBird. (2023, January 2). The Nursing Process in Cancer Treatment.

Work Cited

"The Nursing Process in Cancer Treatment." NursingBird, 2 Jan. 2023,


NursingBird. (2023) 'The Nursing Process in Cancer Treatment'. 2 January.


NursingBird. 2023. "The Nursing Process in Cancer Treatment." January 2, 2023.

1. NursingBird. "The Nursing Process in Cancer Treatment." January 2, 2023.


NursingBird. "The Nursing Process in Cancer Treatment." January 2, 2023.