“Caring for newly diagnosed cancer patients” – Why Paint a Dull Picture? (35)

Before doing a planned post on my recent experience with my Father’s prostate cancer, I thought it would be useful to share the irony of a poster I created in 1992 during my Oncology nursing days at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. At that time, based on my own experiences as an oncology nurse and previously as a cancer patient, I felt there was a real need to remind healthcare professionals particularly in the more general hospital setting on some simple steps which could help patients during the psychologically demanding period immediately post diagnosis. Little did I know it would be just as pertinent today as I felt it was twenty years ago when I created it. My only regret being that modesty restricted my emphasis to nurses rather than Doctors!

Studies concerned with the psychological impact of cancer have consistently identified the time immediately following diagnosis as probably the most psychologically demanding period for the patient and their relatives. Using the acronym ‘CAUTION’ and an eye catching cartoon format with concise text, my poster was intended to remind nurses how a blend of caution and careful management could positively affect a patient’s experience of cancer and its treatment.


Communicate with the patient

Patients often experience a sense of isolation following a diagnosis of cancer. It is vital that nurses make themselves available to answer questions, or just listen. Avoiding the patient will only add to their sense of doubt and insecurity.

Acertaining needsAcertain individual needs

It is important to identify problems and needs specific to each patient. In particular, the nurse should recognize the patients informational needs and plan nursing care accordingly. Information should be given carefully and at a level appropriate to the individuals needs.

Understanding the disease

Understanding the disease

A basic understanding of the different types of cancer will help nurses to anticipate and discuss with the patient, potential problems associated with their particular illness. REMEMBER, each cancer has its own prognosis.

Cancer treatment


For many patients the prospect of treatment can be more frightening than the disease itself. It is important to remember that careful management can minimize and even prevent many of the side-effects of treatment.

Involving others

Involving significant others

The patient should be encouraged where appropriate, to be involved with the planning of their care and treatment. Involving family and friends can have much to offer in the way of support and encouragement.

Organising resources

Organising resources

Successful management of cancer patients requires a multi-disciplinary approach. The nurse should be aware of the resources available and recognize when and where to get help. REMEMBER, many patients will require continued care and support whilst they are at home.



Your response to cancer patients and their diagnosis can greatly influence their ability to cope. A positive approach to the disease by nurses will go a long way towards altering preconceived negative attitudes.

The content in my blog is provided for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for a health care professionals advice. Please consult your own appropriate health care provider about the applicability of any of my opinions with respect to your own symptoms or medical conditions. The information in my blog does not constitute legal or technical advice.

2 Responses to “Caring for newly diagnosed cancer patients” – Why Paint a Dull Picture? (35)

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  2. Cameron says:


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