Tool Addressing Fingernail and Toenail Changes during Cancer Treatment Developed by Oncology Nurses at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey

May 4, 2012
New Brunswick, N.J. – While changes in a patient's fingernails and/or toenails are a relatively uncommon effect of cancer treatment, when they occur these changes can significantly affect the patient's quality of life. In order to better educate cancer patients about such changes, nurses at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) have developed a teaching tool to share with them. The work was presented in abstract form at the Oncology Nursing Society's Annual Congress being held this week in New Orleans. CINJ is a Center of Excellence of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Most reported changes in nails and surrounding tissue involve patients receiving docetaxel for treatment of breast or lung cancer. Patients who receive epidermal growth factor receptor therapies are also affected disproportionately. Research by CINJ nurse Fenina Morales, RN, OCN, identified a need to standardize the way that nurses teach these and other patients about nail changes, so that patients can participate more effectively in the assessment, prevention and management of those changes.

Patient nail change evidence was assessed and a literature review performed to identify reviews, guidelines and expert opinion on nail changes brought on by cancer treatment. Following an extensive review of all literature, a patient education resource was created. Preliminary findings suggest that nurses using the new resource have felt more comfortable educating their patients regarding nail changes.

"Oncology nurses play an important and unique role in educating patients about potential or actual complications related to their cancer treatment. Because of that, it is critical for oncology nurses to assume responsibility for the standards of their practice. By providing a standardized education sheet for nurses to give to their patients, nurses will be able to address any nail change concerns in a uniform manner," says Morales.

Morales notes this teaching tool can be adapted for use by all nurses nationally in order to enhance patient outcomes that are directly affected by nursing care.

About The Cancer Institute of New Jersey
The Cancer Institute of New Jersey ( is the state's first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center dedicated to improving the detection, treatment and care of patients with cancer, and serving as an education resource for cancer prevention. CINJ’s physician-scientists engage in translational research, transforming their laboratory discoveries into clinical practice, quite literally bringing research to life. To make a tax-deductible gift to support CINJ, call 732-235-8614 or visit CINJ is a Center of Excellence of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Follow us on Facebook at

The CINJ Network is comprised of hospitals throughout the state and provides the highest quality cancer care and rapid dissemination of important discoveries into the community. Flagship Hospital: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. System Partner: Meridian Health (Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Ocean Medical Center, Riverview Medical Center, Southern Ocean Medical Center, and Bayshore Community Hospital). Major Clinical Research Affiliate Hospitals: Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Medical Center, Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Overlook Medical Center, and Cooper University Hospital. Affiliate Hospitals: CentraState Healthcare System, JFK Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (CINJ Hamilton), Somerset Medical Center, The University Hospital/UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School*, and University Medical Center at Princeton. *Academic Affiliate

Michele Fisher


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