New guide helps cancer patients manage symptoms
Carlton Brown

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9:28 a.m., March 25, 2011----Cancer patients can be hit with a nasty array of symptoms and side effects, from anemia and anxiety to hair loss and hot flashes. Some of these problems can be so overwhelming that they cause patients to abandon life-saving treatments.

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But effective management of unpleasant symptoms can yield better outcomes for patients, and oncology nurse Carlton Brown has written a book to help with that process.

A Patient's Guide to Cancer Symptom Management presents clearly written descriptions of 22 symptoms and their causes, as well as ways to prevent and treat them. Each chapter deals with a specific symptom and ends with a list of resources for more information about it. Brown and the publisher priced the book at $17 to make it affordable to patients with cancer.

Brown, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Delaware, will promote the book at an expo in New York City in May. He would love to see the compact paperback on top sellers lists -- but not for his own recognition.

“That would tell me the book is in the hands of the people who need it,” he says. “I would love to know that marked-up, tattered copies of it are on people's bedside tables and next to their recliners.”

Brown wanted to be sure that everyone who needs the information could read and understand it, so he wrote the book at about a sixth-grade reading level. For example, the first chapter defines anemia as “a shortage of red blood cells and of hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells whose job is to carry oxygen around the body.”

He recommends that cancer patients and family members first read the book from cover to cover to gain general knowledge about what to expect and then keep it nearby to serve as a reference once treatment is underway and symptoms begin to occur.

The new patient-oriented book is an outgrowth of an earlier text Brown edited that provides evidence-based information for healthcare professionals. Published by the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), A Guide to Oncology Symptom Management received an Award of Excellence in the 22nd annual APEX Awards for Publication Excellence, sponsored by Writing That Works.

Brown is the current president of ONS, a professional organization of some 36,000 registered nurses and other healthcare providers. He has been a member of the society for more than 18 years and is using his platform as president to lobby for better legislation to assist patients and the nurses who care for them.

A Registered Nurse (RN) and Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse (AOCN), Brown earned his doctorate at the University of Utah. He was recently designated one of the top 10 most influential nursing professors on a blog called “Mister Medicine.”

Article by Diane Kukich

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