Cancer remains one of the biggest killers in America.
According to data from the American Cancer Society, one in every 258 children born today will die of the disease before they turn 20. An estimated 300 every 100,000 Americans contract cancer every year. Currently, the U.S ranks 8th in cancer in women and 10th in cancer in men.
Of all types of cancer, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the country. It is also the second most common cancer in both men and women.
What is Lung Cancer?
Cancer is a disease that causes body cells to grow uncontrollably. Lung cancer is cancer that starts, develops and destroys in the lungs.
Although lung cancer begins in the lungs, it can spread to lymph nodes found in other organs with ease. For example, lung cancer may easily spread to the brain. It is also possible for cancer to spread from other organs of the body to the lungs. This spread of cancer cells from one part of the body to another is called metastasis.
There are two categories of lung cancer; small cell and non-small cell. The two types of lung cancer grow differently and are treated differently. Non-small cell cancer is the more common of the two.
You’re more likely to die from lung cancer if you smoke than if you don’t smoke – 90% (9 out of 10) of all lung cancer cases are smoking related. The main reason for this is that tobacco smoke contains over 4,700 chemicals with 40 of those being known carcinogens. Tobacco cigarettes also contain more than 30 metals including cadmium and nickel as well as several radioactive substances – all of which have been associated with cancer.
You’re at a higher risk of getting the disease if you’re male – Given that more men smoke compared to women, you would expect men to be at an increased risk of getting the disease. This is actually true. However, the number of women with cancer has consistently grown over the past decade as the number of women who smoke increased. Today, 58% of all lung cancer patients in the U.S. are men with the other 42% being female (Cancer Correct).
Older people are at an increased risk of getting cancer – Researchers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration department (FDA) indicate that you are also at an increased risk if you’re older. 75% of all cancer patients in the U.S. are 65 years or older. However, if the number of long-term self-care patients increases,
African Americans are at a greater risk – One statistic that has puzzled many, is why African Americans are the most affected. According to an article on the Washington Post, African American are 37% more likely to develop lung cancer compared to white men, yet their exposure to cigarette smoke is lower.
Citing a 2010 report compiled by the American Lung Association, its writer indicates that white men smoked 30% to 40% more than their African American counterparts meaning that their exposure to tobacco smoke is higher. Yet, African Americans still lead the queue in cancer cases. Even Alaska natives and American Indians smoke more than African Americans but less at risk of developing cancer compared to African Americans.
Smokers of methanol cigarettes are more likely to get lung cancer – Apparently, the difference comes in which cigarettes you smoke. 80% of African Americans choose menthol cigarettes every time they want to smoke. Meanwhile, only 32% of Hispanic smokers and 24% of white smokers use menthol cigarettes. Smokers of menthol cigarettes tend to develop higher concentrations of cotinine in their blood – a possible reason for the increased exposure to lung cancer.
With the data above, it’s easy to identify the most vulnerable group. And this group is African American men aged 65 years and above who smoke methanol cigarettes. The situation is worsened when African American communities are targeted with ads featuring menthol brand cigarettes. Being able to understand the healthcare needs of different cultures is going to better prepare healthcare providers to handle and address this kind of information.
If you have or think you might have lung cancer, take advantage of the many cancer resources found online.
Except for skin cancers, breast cancer stands as one of the most prominent risks that American women have to face throughout their life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group, 220,097 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. Approximately 40,000 women die of breast cancer every year. However, within both diagnostic and mortality statistics, several inconsistencies arise in regards to Caucasian and African American women.
Whether due to biological or socioeconomic factors, statistics show that mortality rates among African American women are higher even though African American women account for fewer new cases of breast cancer. Fortunately, by understanding the nature of breast cancer across racial and ethnic divides, minority populations can decrease potential risks for late-stage, advanced breast cancer.
Gaps in Breast Cancer between Caucasian and African American Women
When looking at the numbers, the differences in breast cancer between Caucasian and African-American women is quite astounding. The most striking difference is that the mortality rate among African American women is forty-one percent higher than that of Caucasian women. Several studies also show that when some African American women receive an abnormal mammography result, their cancer has already evolved to a late-stage, aggressive formation that has begun to spread to other parts of the body.
According to the CDC and the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), this grave disparity does not solely come from either biological or socioeconomic reasons, but from a combination of both.
Possible Links to Biological Differences
Historically, African American women are prone to more aggressive types of breast cancer tumors, which has led researchers and those who have adopted the concept of population-focused care to believe that biological traits help explain the rapid, aggressive growth of the primary tumor in African American breast cancer patients. In fact, the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute has discovered fundamental differences in the characteristics of the primary tumor between Caucasian and African American women. Differences in primary tumor behavior between African American and Caucasian women are visible in the following tumor characteristics:
- Steroid receptor content
- Growth factor receptor content
- Cell cycle component mutations
- Chromosomal abnormalities
- Tumor suppressors
Although researchers at the American Cancer Society, CDC, and NSABP agree that the higher mortality rate in African American women comes from inherent genetic and biological traits, these groups tend to place more attention and emphasis on non-biological factors. According to the Center for Cancer Research, it is the non-biological factors that act directly to either influence or inhibit the various consequences associated with primary tumor growth.
The most significant contributor to the inconsistencies in mortality rates between Caucasian and African American women is routine mammogram screenings. Without health insurance, easy access to a reliable and trustworthy health care provider, and education regarding the importance of routine mammogram screenings, thousands of African-American women find themselves unable to properly receive mammogram screenings at least once every two years.
Breast Cancer Prevention and Early Onset Detection
Like with most types of cancers, cancer scientists and researchers have not discovered conclusive methods of breast cancer prevention. However, by focusing on the socioeconomic factors that play a significant role in higher mortality rates among African American women, the CDC and the American Cancer Society believe they can increase survival rates and minimize these gaps between Caucasian and African American women.
Breast Cancer Resources for Minorities
Fortunately, there are many groups within the United States and U.S. territories that seek to combat the socioeconomic differences and provide underserved women with mammogram screenings, proper follow-up care, and breast cancer education. For example, the CDC’s own National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) provides health care access to women in all 50 states, the U.S. territories, and among 11 tribes.
Other breast cancer resources that minority populations and underserved women should take advantage of include:
- The African American Breast Cancer Alliance
- The Sisters Network
- The Susan G. Komen Foundation
- Planned Parenthood, and
- The Black Women’s Health Imperative
However, there are many others. A good resource for information on where women can acquire a mammogram screening and get in touch with one of these organizations is often a local church, or even a trusted family member or friend. The most important thing to remember is no woman is alone in the fight against breast cancer. All she needs to do is ask.
A registered professional school nurse is considered the initiator and leader of health policies and programs within her affiliated school, according to the National Association of School Nurses. The school nurse also provides both health care services and adequate health education to all students under his or her care.
Using clinical knowledge in conjunction with judgment congruent to professional training, the school nurse provides wellness screenings and referrals to private health care providers to students and staff alike. The Health Resources and Services Administration estimates that there are currently around 75,000 registered nurses operating in schools across the United States.
Importance of 21st Century School Nurses
The student’s ability to learn new information is directly related to his health. That is; students with unmet or chronic health challenges struggle to engage adequately with the process of education. This is crucial to understand because, according to recent studies, the number of school-aged children with chronic health conditions like epilepsy, obesity, and anxiety disorders has markedly risen over the last two generations.
Due to this increase of students with chronic conditions, school nurses need to be able to respond to a gamut of special health care needs and be well-versed in esoteric medical treatments and technically challenging medical equipment.
Since school nurses are required to enroll in continuing education beyond their hands-on bachelor’s credentialing, today’s school nurses can act autonomously to gauge student health, operate as first responders, and engage in tracking compliance to immunization and the incidence of disease.
Educational Plan Development and Modern Needs
In addition to autonomously making diagnoses and operating as first responders, school nurses in the 21st century are expected to be leaders of school health care initiatives, as well as members of educational plan development teams. The two aims of an educational plan development team are to optimize the student’s educational experience while laying the groundwork for responding to urgent health situations.
An educational plan is coordinated in conjunction with parents, guardians, and the student’s primary care physician. Communication should also be ongoing between these parties and case managers or sub-specialists, such as speech pathologists working in the school district.
School nurses need to collate all relevant information, such as special provisions for routine health care procedures and the student’s special needs, and convey this information to primary care physicians or even insurance companies. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics provides an Emergency Information Form that the school nurses can use as a touchstone for formulating a student’s individual medical protocol.
Credentialing and Prevalence of School Nurses
The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends one licensed school nurse per 750 students, though individual states may have different requirements. Certification for these school nurses takes place at the state board-level; that said, the minimum expectation for all school nurses working in the United States is a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
On a day-to-day basis, the American Academy of Pediatrics has urged school nurses to work more closely with the student’s primary care physician, as well as sub-specialists and other school personnel. A comprehensive school health care initiative can also help students with special needs find appropriate social services at the community level.
The goals of a school health care initiative, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, should be in alignment with the following principles: engagement with primary health care providers; protocols for crisis medical situations; mandated monitoring of immunization and screening; and most importantly, special attention to all health care challenges that potentially impinge on the student’s educational needs.
A growing sector of the nursing industry continues to be in the field of research. Nurses use their research to provide evidence-based care for patients, which in turn promotes health and aids in disease prevention. It has led to the improvement of health in individuals, families, communities, and health systems. Research also helps to influence policy in direct care, policy within an organization as well as at the state and federal level. Globally the impact of nurse-led research is huge, affecting quality of care and disease prevention in hard hit, third world countries.
Supporting a global mission to advance nursing science is at the core of what nurse researchers do. Nurses have the opportunity to initiate their own research or work together to conduct a study. In the clinical setting, nurses are made aware of the various degrees of patient needs, nurse impact on patient safety, quality of life, health care disparities, and heath behaviors. This presents an opportunity to discover a research need that will help address these areas in the health care setting. Some nurses opt to make research their life’s work, dedicating the focus of their research to a specific issue.
Nurse Research Studies
Nurse researchers may see a need to conduct a study on a specific health condition that is ailing a sector of his or her community. Additionally, research may be conducted to help improve the nurse’s role, about a specific treatment, or understanding a specific ailment. Research is conducted in a wide variety of arenas and nurses that are interested in this type of work are encouraged to find opportunities in their community. Recent studies have included:
- Assessment of the challenges of New Hampshire’s cancer survivors, research conducted by Karen Skalla, MSN, ARNP.
- Self efficacy improvement in Multiple Sclerosis, research conducted by Brant Oliver, APRN, MSN, MPH.
- Oxygen desaturation in patients on an in-patient epilepsy monitoring unit, research conducted by Karen Secore, MS, APRN, CNRN.
- Pilot study of yoga as self-care for arthritis in minority communities, research conducted by the NIH and Kimberly Middleton, BSN, MPH
- The effect of music listening on the amount of opioids used in surgical intensive care patients, research conducted by the NIH and Nancy Ames, RN, PhD.
- Quantifying and understanding the signs and symptoms of fever, research conducted by the NIH and Nancy Ames, RN, PhD.
- Naturopathic management of females with HPV, research conducted by Gwenyth R. Wallen, RN, PhD.
- Hypnosis as pain and symptom management strategy in patients with sickle cell disease, research conducted by Gwenyth R. Wallen, RN, PhD.
These studies have helped discover ways to improve the challenges of New Hampshire’s cancer survivors, improve in-patient epilepsy monitoring units, promote yoga for arthritic suffers in minority communities, natural therapy for women affected by HPV, and alternative pain research for sickle cell disease. The studies here are just a small sampling of the work conducted by nurse researchers, many helping to shape the way we look at health care today. Findings for these studies can be found on the NIH website as well as on the American Nurses Association website.
Funding For Nurse Researchers
The nursing community is very supportive of nurse researchers and has provided amazing resources for those interested in starting a research study. The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) is a great place to start when looking for funding, having provided grants to hundreds of nurse researchers.
Universities and colleges also provide funding and opportunities for research studies in your local community. Often this type of support is exclusive to faculty and students, but additional opportunities may be available in your area.
Private funders such as pharmaceutical companies and independent labs have been known to sponsor research. While this might not be a nurse scientists’ ideal scenario, it’s still an opportunity to provide the health care community with insights after a study has been conducted.
Overall, nurse research helps to provide the health care community with answers to the toughest questions, impact global health and make way for advancements in the future. “I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts” – Bill Gates.