Chemotherapeutic Treatment of Colorectal Cancer: Rationale, Trends, and Nursing Care

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Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in America. Historically, chemotherapeutic treatment of colorectal cancer has met with mixed success. Continued research is securing a role for chemotherapy in the treatment of colorectal cancer, with fluoropyrimidines (5-fluorouracil and fluorodeoxyuridine), alone or in combination with modulating agents, being the most promising area of treatment. Knowledge of cell kinetics forms the basis for understanding chemotherapeutic activity and the management of drug-induced side effects. Nursing care is essential to the management of such common side effects as myelosuppression, stomatitis, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and cutaneous problems. Inadequate management of side effects can result in serious and distressing complications, including inability to complete therapy, risking an opportunity for potential cure or causing needless suffering and expense. In addition to supporting continued medical research, nurses need to pursue research that identifies the most effective nursing interventions for management of side effects from chemotherapy.

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