Counselling and adverse event management for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes undergoing azacitidine therapy: A practice standard for Canadian nurses

Cindy Murray, Annie Wereley, Shannon Nixon, Carol Hua-Yung, Sarah von Riedemann, Sandra Kurtin


Azacitidine (5-azacytidine, VIDAZA®) is a disease-modifying agent that improves survival, reduces transfusion dependence, and reduces progression to acute myeloid leukemia in patients with higher risk myelodysplastic syndromes. Azacitidine injection is associated with characteristic adverse events (AEs) that must be managed in order for patients to stay on therapy and achieve optimal therapeutic outcomes. These AEs include injection-site reactions, cytopenias, and gastrointestinal effects. Oncology nurses are uniquely positioned to provide patient support and counselling, thereby helping patients and their families set clear expectations for azacitidine therapy. This article presents a nursing standard designed to support Canadian oncology nurses in the key areas of counselling for patients initiating and continuing azacitidine, as well as nursing strategies for prevention and management of azacitidine-associated AEs. Many of the general principles discussed in this nursing standard can be applied broadly to many diseases and treatments.

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