On behalf of the JONS Editorial Board, it is my pleasure to present this special edition dedicated to the topic of immunotherapy. One of the many responsibilities of a navigator is to facilitate patient education—it is therefore imperative that we educate ourselves on new treatments, distill the information into lay terms, and use that information to effectively educate our patients.
I know that when patients initially receive a cancer diagnosis, among the barrage of thoughts and fears that simultaneously strike them is the assumption that they will receive chemotherapy. Whereas at one time chemotherapy was one of our only weapons in the fight against cancer, that is not true today. And while chemotherapies remain an effective tool, they are joined by other therapy options, including immunotherapies.
There are several types of immunotherapies, including monoclonal antibodies, immune checkpoint inhibitors, and therapeutic vaccines. All have the goal of empowering the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Much of the information on immunotherapies is highly scientific in nature and presented in scholarly or academic venues, so it is important for navigators to find the correct tools to help our patients attain a thorough understanding of this therapeutic option in language that is accessible.
Immunotherapies are an important new weapon in our arsenal, and as navigators, we are obligated to learn all we can about them. I hope this issue increases your understanding of this exciting area of oncology treatment.
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, ONN-CG
Editor-in-Chief, JONS; Program Director, AONN+
University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer; Administrative Director, the Johns Hopkins Breast Center; Director, Cancer Survivorship
Programs at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins; Professor, JHU School of Medicine, Depts of Surgery and Oncology; Cofounder, Johns Hopkins Medicine Managing Cancer at Work.