What is the role of the Oncology Pharmacist?

John Malinowski, ATC, CET

The challenges in cancer care are ongoing. The increasing complexity of treatment regimens, new drugs and indications and the advances in immunotherapy have led to the need for oncology pharmacists and pharmacy staff to be an integral part of a successful cancer program. Mission Hope provides this important service.

Oncology dedicated pharmacists are a very important part of the cancer care team. Oncology pharmacists are actively engaged in all aspects of care—from chemotherapy dose preparation and safety checks to educating patients about side effects. They possess specialized knowledge about medications and work with the medical and nursing staff to maximize the benefits of drug therapy while minimizing the side effects, helping to achieve the best possible outcomes. Due to the need for pharmacists to have focused oncology expertise, oncology has been recognized as its own specialty and pharmacists can receive a board certification in oncology. This is why we feel it is important at Mission Hope to have a team of dedicated oncology pharmacists to ensure high standards and patient safety. Our facilities have oncology dedicated pharmacists on staff and available to our patients.

The Oncology Pharmacist has the advanced knowledge and experience to manage cancer-related and drug-related adverse events or clinical situations not encountered in other disease states due to the increasing number and complexity of drug therapies to treat and prevent cancer. Our pharmacists are specially trained to recommend, design, implement, monitor and modify pharmaco-therapeutic plans to optimize outcomes in patients with malignant diseases and reduce medication errors. They recognize and respond to adverse physical and emotional issues that may arise during treatment, including pain, nausea and hair loss and work collaboratively with all of the cancer team on evidence based decisions to improve patient care.

If you have questions about your medications or side effects you can schedule an appointment with one of our specialized oncology dedicated pharmacists to discuss your specific concerns, please talk to your nurse navigator or your treatment nurse. Learning about your medications and their possible side effects is an important part of cancer treatment.

We know that COVID-19 is affecting everyone and we want to help you deal with the situation at hand whether you’re a survivor with a compromised immune system or a caregiver.

Our monthly Discussion Groups are currently on hold, but our experienced cancer nurses are available by telephone to answer questions and assist patients to learn how to cope with symptoms and side effects.  Facing such challenges can be overwhelming but this friendly and knowledgeable group can be extremely helpful.  Learn more online at www.missionhopecancercenter.com or by calling  (805) 219.HOPE (4673). We’re here for you.

HAVE A QUESTION? This weekly column produced by Marian Cancer Care invites you to submit your questions to “Your Cancer Answers” at the following email address mariancancercare@dignityhealth.org