Moffitt employees receive Book of the Year award

Two employees at USF and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute have published a book that received the American Journal of Nursing “Book of the Year” Award for 2003.

The American Journal of Nursing was founded in the year 1900 and, according to its Web site, is the oldest and largest circulating nursing journal in the world.

The book, which was published in 2003 by the Springer Publishing company, is titled The Older Cancer Patient: A Guide for Nurses and Related Professionals. It was written by Lodovico Balducci, the program leader for Senior Adult Oncology at Moffitt, and Janine Overcash, a registered nurse in the senior adult oncology program at Moffitt and a professor in the college of nursing at USF.

Although both Balducci and Overcash wrote 50 percent of the book, and edited it, other experts in the area of senior oncology from around the country collaborated with clinical and scientific explanations of procedures, treatments and care for older adults who have cancer.

The book provides essential information for nurses and other professionals for the treatment of the adult cancer patient. Topics in the book include an overview of cancer in the older adult and barriers to treatment, prevention and screening of cancer in older adults, how to perform a comprehensive geriatric assessment as a method for planning multidisciplinary care, practical applications of quality of life assessment, special considerations in radiation therapy and chemotherapy with the older adult and social and caregiver issues.

But, the book is more than just a how-to for nurses and physicians, said Balducci. The book also recounts many of the experiences that both Balducci and Overcash had while working in the discipline of senior oncology.

“I thought it could be more than just a scientific book, but also a history of our personal adventure,” Balducci said. Balducci, who was notified about the honor in January of this year, said that his experiences are not unique to physicians practicing in the area of senior oncology. His experiences are similar to what most physicians go through and as a result Balducci said he feels that the book will be beneficial in teaching professionals about such things as learning to work as a team and learning to communicate with other professionals.

In the book there are several real cases that Balducci and Overcash have experienced. The cases help to exemplify the experiences that both Balducci and Overcash went through and, at the same time, they show how the medical science is put into practice.

One of the key ideas of the book is to show how cancer in older adults can be very multifaceted and how seniors with cancer need to be examined carefully in order to administer the safest and most useful procedures.

“Aging is a multidimensional process, which involves a progressive deterioration of our functions,” Balducci said.

Three things occur to people as they get older, which can cause complications for cancer treatment, he said. The first thing that happens when people get older is that they are less and less capable of coping with stress. At the same time, there is an increased prevalence of chronic conditions or chronic diseases and there is also a waning of a person’s economical and personal resources.

“When you put these things together, you have a person that is limited in more than one aspect of life,” Balducci said. “Cancer is bad for everyone, but in the older person, not only do you have concerns about immediate clinical implications, but you are also concerned about the effect of cancer on the quality of life, the tolerance of cancer treatment and about the long-term effects of cancer treatment on the function of this person.”