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Oncologic Emergencies: Considerations for Therapists

presented by Suzänne Taylor PhD

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Disclosure Statement:

Financial: Suzanne Taylor receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course.

Non-Financial: Suzanne Taylor has no competing non-financial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

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Oncologic emergencies are defined as an acute and potentially life-threatening event caused by cancer or the associated treatments. While some of these may take months to develop, others may manifest in just hours. With the improved ability to provide outpatient cancer treatments, oncologic emergencies are no longer isolated to the hospital setting. This means regardless of the practice setting, the therapist may be the one to identify the developing oncologic emergency. In this course, Dr. Suzänne Taylor discusses signs and symptoms of oncologic emergencies. She details how therapists can identify early signs and symptoms and how to facilitate risk reduction in certain oncologic emergencies.

Meet Your Instructor

Suzänne Taylor PhD, MBA, OTR/L

Suzänne Taylor, PhD, MBA, OTR/L, has extensive experience in oncology rehabilitation including providing direct therapy interventions and presenting on state, regional, and national levels. Dr. Taylor has dedicated her career to furthering oncology rehabilitation education, research, and program development. Her clinical practice included working in areas of surgical oncology, otolaryngology, hematology and medical oncology, bone…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Hematologic Emergencies

Hematologic emergencies include febrile neutropenia, disseminated intravascular coagulopathy, hyperviscosity syndrome, and leukostasis. Along with explaining clinical symptoms and necessary actions to take, Dr. Taylor reviews the risk factors and how therapists can incorporate client-based education into therapy sessions.

2. Metabolic Emergencies

This chapter includes the most common metabolic disorder, hypercalcemia, which affects up to one third of cancer patients at some point in the disease process and leads to a variety of symptoms including pain, muscle twitching and weakness, bone fractures, and impaired cognitive abilities. Dr. Taylor also discusses tumor lysis syndrome, an oncologic emergency with mortality as high as 15% and approximately one third of patients requiring dialysis. Dr. Taylor details the clinical presentations of these metabolic emergencies and how therapists can help patients decrease their risk.

3. Cardiopulmonary Emergencies

Cancer and associated treatments may leave the cancer survivor at risk for cardiac complications for years, even when cancer-free; as such, cardiopulmonary emergencies remain a risk. Join Dr. Taylor as she explains superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS), malignant pericardial effusion, which may cause cardiac tamponade, and cardiotoxicity.

4. Neurological and Skeletal Emergencies

There are multiple potential reasons for altered mental status or changes in neurological status. Always an emergency, cancer survivors have increased risks of these emergencies due to primary cancer, metastatic brain disease, infections, metabolic changes, and/or organ failure. Cancer survivors are also at risk for complications of metastatic disease including metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC) and metastatic bone disease (MBD). In this chapter Dr. Taylor discusses each of these emergencies including signs, symptoms, and management.

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Advances in oncology care have led to greater numbers of cancer survivors living much longer after diagnosis. Unfortunately cancer and cancer treatments can negatively impact literally every aspect of the person including physiological, physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being. Additionally, long-term and sometimes persistent lingering effects decrease performance abilities and overall quality of life. Rehabilitation professionals play a key role in mitigating the effects of cancer and cancer treatments and improving outcomes. In this course, Dr. Suzänne Taylor explains how oncology clinical practice guidelines and standards support the involvement of rehabilitation from diagnosis through survivorship, advanced disease and end-of-life. She provides recommendations for the focus of therapy interventions based upon cancer treatments, anticipated physiological responses and disease state.

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