Nurses in cancer care

There are different kinds of nurses involved in cancer care.

They should always introduce themselves and let you know what they do. If they don’t, or you have forgotten, then ask them. It can be helpful to keep a record of their name, role and how to contact them in case you need to.

This page will help you understand what different nurses do and how they can support you.

Specialist nurses

Specialist nurses are nurses who have done specialist training in cancer. They may be experts in a specific cancer type, a particular treatment or area of care.

They can have different titles including:

  • Oncology nurse
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
  • Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP)
  • Nurse Consultant

Specialist nurses work mainly in hospitals, but some provide care in your home. 

Some are called Macmillan Nurses because they have been funded by the charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

Many of the Cancer Support Specialists in our centres have previously worked as specialist nurses.

Ward nurses

Ward nurses care for you when you're in hospital.

There are different grades of nurses, the most senior of which is the Ward Sister, Charge Nurse, or Ward Manager.

Some ward nurses are specialist nurses and others provide general care.

Community nurses

Community nurses provide care and practical advice away from the hospital.

District Nurses, Practice Nurses and Health Visitors are all kinds of community nurse. You might see them at local health clinics or your GP surgery or they may visit you at home.

They provide a wide range of nursing care including:

  • Helping you when you leave hospital
  • Taking out stitches
  • Cleaning wounds
  • Giving out specialised medication

They also work closely with specialist and palliative care nurses.

Palliative care nurses

Palliative care nurses are experts in managing difficult symptoms, like pain. They also help support you and your family emotionally and when making difficult choices.

They work as part of your cancer care team and may become involved at any time from when you're diagnosed.

Some palliative care nurses are called Marie Curie Nurses. They are employed by the charity Marie Curie and provide care at home through the day or night to give carers a break. You can contact them through your healthcare team.

Maggie's is here with you

Our Cancer Support Specialists are here to listen to your concerns and help you find the information and help that's right for you:

Last review: Oct 2021 | Next review: Oct 2022

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