About cancer

Nurses in cancer care

There are different kinds of nurses involved in cancer care.

Specialist nurses

There are a number of specialist nurses in cancer care, and many of these nurses are called oncology nurses, clinical nurse specialists (CNS) or Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANP's). These nurses have done specialist training and have particular areas of expertise in cancer. You may also meet nurse consultants. They are very experienced registered nurses, practicing at an advanced level. Their role involves education, research and management activities.

Specialist nurses work mainly in hospitals, but some provide care in the patient’s home. They may specialise in a specific cancer for example breast, lung, head and neck cancer, or a particular treatment, for example chemotherapy. Some of these nurses are called Macmillan Nurses because they have been funded by the charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

Ward nurses

Ward nurses include different grades of nurses, the most senior of which is the ward sister or ward manager. Some are specialist nurses, for example, for patients who are recovering from an operation, and others are general nurses providing general care. If you have to stay in hospital overnight you will have a ‘named nurse’ to provide your nursing care.

Community nurses

Community nurses provide care and practical advice in the patient’s home. District nurses, practice nurses and health visitors are all kinds of community nurse,and they are usually based in local health clinics or general practice surgeries. They provide a wide range of nursing care including helping patients when they leave hospital, taking out stitches, cleaning wounds and giving out some medication at home. They also work closely with specialist cancer and palliative care nurses.

Specialist palliative care nurses

Specialist palliative care nurses have expertise in managing pain and other symptoms, and can provide support for people with cancer and their families. They can be based in the community, in hospital or in a hospice, and work as part of cancer care teams.

They may become involved at any time from diagnosis onwards,and provide links to other professionals and between hospital and home. Some specialist palliative care nurses are called Macmillan nurses because they have been funded by the charity Macmillan Cancer Support. 

Marie Curie Cancer Care Nurses

Marie Curie nurses provide hands on care at home through the day or night, giving the carer a break. They will have up to date knowledge of palliative care. You can contact them through community nurses.