Recent study results support a role for nurse practitioners as members of a radiation oncology team, assisting with survivorship care for patients undergoing radiation therapy for breast or prostate cancer. Karol Huenerberg, RN, APNP, FNP-BC, AOCNP®, from University of Wisconsin Health Radiation Oncology in Madison, Wisconsin, shared the study results in a poster presentation on the 2020 Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Bridge virtual conference.1

A goal of the study was to evaluate whether a nurse practitioner role in a radiation oncology department could augment the patient experience and survivorship care. Patients who underwent radiation therapy had follow-up visits with the nurse practitioner. These occurred at 1 month after therapy for patients with breast cancer (266 patients) or at 6 weeks post-therapy for patients with prostate cancer (81 patients).

The follow-up visit served multiple aims, including giving the patient a treatment summary and survivorship care plan, assessing treatment response, and addressing treatment-related effects. Care coordination, follow-up planning, and referrals were also managed. Patients completed surveys regarding satisfaction and survivorship needs, and electronic health records were examined for data regarding the intervention.

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The most common needs detected in patients who had been treated for breast cancer involved psychosocial, healthy lifestyle, and pain/lymphedema concerns. This patient group most commonly received referrals to health psychology, dieticians, and physical or occupational therapy.

Overall, measures regarding perceptions on “sensitivity to patient needs” (84.7%), “likelihood of recommending the clinic” (88.5%), and “provider efforts to include in decisions” (91.1%) all met or exceeded target levels.

It was concluded that this program was able to address survivorship topics and referrals for supportive care, and patient satisfaction was high. The study results suggest a nurse practitioner can play an important role in a radiation oncology team in terms of facilitating survivorship care.


Huenerberg K. Improving survivorship care in radiation oncology: optimizing the nurse practitioner role. Presented at: ONS Bridge; September 8, 2020. Accessed September 20, 2020.

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor