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Using a Genomics Taxonomy: Facilitating Patient Care Safety and Quality in the Era of Precision Oncology

Patricia Friend
Erin Dickman
Kathleen Calzone
CJON 2021, 25(2), 205-209 DOI: 10.1188/21.CJON.205-209

Oncology nurses need to be competent in the ever-expanding application of genomics in cancer care, and understanding foundational terms is necessary. A landscape analysis of Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) materials, a literature review, and expert opinion revealed inconsistencies and varying use of genomic terms, some of which are outdated. In response, the ONS Genomics Taxonomy was built to address inaccuracies and discrepancies in terms and to be an accessible resource for oncology nurses. The taxonomy is a living document that is updated to reflect evolving science and evidence and serves to diminish confusion, improve genomic literacy, and assist oncology nurses in providing safe genomic care.


  • Advancements have transformed cancer care from genetics into genomics, necessitating changes in terminology used by professionals to avoid confusion and reflect the current state of the evidence. 
  • Patients and families rely on nurses to explain genomic terminology and concepts in ways that can be easily understood, which is facilitated by a taxonomy. 
  • Oncology nursing education programs should use consistent, accurate, and current terminology when providing education on genomic concepts.

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