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Though a cancer nurse must often deal with loss, there are also great emotional rewards

Cancer nurses, also known as oncology nurses, care for patients who are receiving treatment for cancer. While this career was once limited to treating patients who are undergoing surgery, the past 50 years has seen the role of cancer nurse change quite a bit.

CT image of a brain tumor

Now, many cancer patients undergo lengthy treatment periods in addition to sometimes undergoing surgery. A cancer nurse will treat a patient through all stages of cancer therapy. As modern cancer treatments evolve, so will the roles of a cancer nurse.

Cancer nurses have many duties. In addition to the direct treatment of patients who have cancer or who are at risk of developing cancer, a cancer nurse acts as a consultant and researcher.

Patients will have many questions about their treatment and recovery, which a cancer nurse must be prepared to answer. Also, as the scientific community learns more about cancer, nurses and doctors who work in oncology must learn the new developments. Each patient will pose a new challenge to the medical team that is assigned to him/her.

The benefits of becoming a cancer nurse are many. Most nurses sought a position in medicine because they wish to heal others. Though a cancer nurse must often deal with loss, there are also great emotional rewards in this field. Also, cancer nurses are among the highest paid in the nursing profession.

Those who seek an advanced degree are especially well paid and could earn well into the six figures after a few years in practice. With the United States currently experiencing a shortage of nurses, there has never been a better time to find work as a cancer nurse.