Managing the Care of Patients With Renal Cell Carcinoma During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Advice from Nazy Zomorodian, RNC, MSN, CUNP, CCRC

Nazy Zomorodian, RNC, MSN, CUNP, CCRC.

At the Greater Los Angeles Oncology Nursing Society (GLAONS) Oncology Care Summit in Los Angeles, California, Oncology Data Advisor spoke with Nazy Zomorodian, NP, a nurse practitioner in the Department of Urology at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center, about strategies for optimizing patient experiences during renal cell carcinoma treatment. Ms. Zomorodian discusses the challenges of treating patients with renal cell carcinoma, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and shares strategies for promoting adherence and optimizing treatment outcomes.

Oncology Data Advisor: Ms. Zomorodian, thank you so much for joining me today.

Nazy Zomorodian, RNC, MSN, CUNP, CCRC: Thanks for having me. This is a pleasure.

Oncology Data Advisor: In what ways have the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic influenced your management of renal cell carcinoma?

Ms. Zomorodian: Obviously, for a patient with renal cell carcinoma and any other cancers, it has been a very challenging year because before the vaccine became available and patients were able to have the COVID tests, they were very wary of coming to the clinic to do their follow-ups, going to radiology to do their scans, and coming for their infusions. This has been challenging because I’ve seen, in my kidney cancer patients, a lot of patients who progress because they missed their visits and follow-ups. It’s obviously always sad to see that happen.

Oncology Data Advisor: What are some of the changes that have been implemented in your practice to help balance the risks of COVID-19 against the need for treatment?

Ms. Zomorodian: Well, the first thing we implemented last year, before we had the vaccination and the COVID test as widely available as they are today, is that we switched most of the patients that we could to telehealth with video visits, audio visits, or whatever was available, because most of the local oncologists closed their offices. We tried to keep in touch with our patients with any social media that we had in our practice, and we changed the clinic hours. We obviously had limited hours because of limited seating. We tried to eliminate patients waiting in the waiting rooms and implemented cleaning up the exam rooms and infusion chairs after each visit. We also implemented Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for patients’ visits and prepared the nurses and doctors for each visit as per the CDC guidelines. We eliminated having students and visiting professors and having more than one health care provider to go to a patient’s room at that time. We also eliminated allowing the patients’ visitors and caregivers in the room.

Oncology Data Advisor: How do you foresee the treatment of renal cell carcinoma evolving in the coming years?

Ms. Zomorodian: I think as we’ve seen in the last two years, we will see in the next few years a lot of combination therapies, because we see a lot of benefit in the survival rates and eliminating deaths. Many ongoing studies and clinical trials are doing a lot of combining of different modalities. I think this trend is going to continue in the next few years, as well.

Oncology Data Advisor: Do you have any advice for the optimal management of immune-related adverse events in patients receiving immunotherapy for renal cell carcinoma?

Ms. Zomorodian: Obviously, we came up with a lot of guidelines through the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), and other societies of clinical oncologists. It’s been very hands-on in coming up with guidelines on how to manage these side effects. As a part of my talk at GLAONS, we went through a series of recommendations, because the side effects of immuno-oncology (IO) are very specific and need specific guidelines. I think we did a good job coming up with the guidelines. All we have to do now is educate the health care providers and the nurses who are taking care of these patients on how to implant these guidelines in different stages of prevention, treatment, and post-treatment with this group of patients.

Oncology Data Advisor: Do you have any final words of advice for nurses who are working with patients with renal cell carcinoma?

Ms. Zomorodian: Yes. Always ask the patients questions a couple of times, because sometimes the patients may not give you the whole picture the first time. So always ask the questions and keep the line of communication open between you and the patient.

Oncology Data Advisor: Thank you very much for sharing all this advice with us.

Ms. Zomorodian: Thank you very much for having me here. It’s very exciting, thank you.

About Nazy Zomorodian

Nazy Zomorodian, RNC, MSN, CUNP, CCRC, is a nurse practitioner in the Department of Urology at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center, where she is also the Director of Genitourinary (GU) Clinical Trials. In addition, she is an Assistant Professor of Urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is certified by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals as a Clinical Research Coordinator. Ms. Zomorodian specializes in the treatment of patients with genitourinary malignancies, including kidney, prostate, and bladder cancer, and her research focuses on developing novel therapeutics and improving outcomes for patients with these diseases.

This transcript has been edited for clarity. Any views expressed above are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Oncology Data Advisor. 

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