1. Section Editor(s): STOKOWSKI, LAURA A. RN, MS

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You may not realize this, but you are not just a neonatal nurse or neonatal advanced practice nurse. According to Georgia Decker, President of the Oncology Nursing Society, every nurse is also an oncology nurse. Why is this? Because there are now almost 10 million cancer survivors in the United States, and the number is growing. Cancer survivors are encountered by nurses in every healthcare setting (some of them are our coworkers) and it is our individual and collective responsibility to help these individuals live as well as possible. And this applies to the NICU as well. Although research on pregnancy outcomes in cancer survivors remains limited, women who have survived cancer deliver more preterm infants and low birth-weight infants than women in the non-cancer population.1 Women are having babies after surviving breast cancer, and some women are diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer during pregnancy. Women who survived childhood cancer are becoming pregnant with the help of fertility treatments. Fathers who survived cancer may also have babies in the NICU. All of these parents may set their own cancer survivorship issues aside in their concern for their hospitalized infants, but this may not be in the best interests of either child or parent. As healthcare providers, we should be caring for the entire family, and so it is important to take note of a history of cancer in the parent of an NICU patient, and explore cancer survivorship issues and needs with that parent during the NICU stay.




1. Fossa SD, Magelssen H, Melve K, Jacobsen AB, Langmark F, Skjaerven R. Parenthood in survivors after adulthood cancer and perinatal health in their offspring: a preliminary report. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 2005;34:77-82. [Context Link]