CANO Nursing Knowledge and Competencies Framework for Cancer Care

Purpose of Framework

  • To provide a framework for nursing practice and knowledge to guide care across the continuum for patients with cancer and their families

Objectives of Framework

  1. Highlight nurses' contribution to high quality cancer care
  2. Describe oncology nursing knowledge across the continuum of care for cancer patients (Standards and Competencies)
  3. Discuss variability of nursing roles across the spectrum of cancer care

Overview of Framework

  • Underpinnings of Framework:
    • Highlights oncology knowledge expected of nurses irrespective of where they work
    • To ensure best care of cancer patients, collaboration of all nurses across continuum is essential

Framework Definitions 


Adapted from Cancer Australia EdCaN Framework, A National Professional Development Framework 2009.*

All Nurses

Demonstrate the ability to integrate cancer knowledge and nursing competencies when caring for people with cancer.

  • Spans across the cancer care continuum in non-oncology settings (ie., community, general practice, long term care, general medicine or nurses entering practice)
  • Patients being cared for with multiple comorbidities, of which cancer is just one. The nurse may not be providing care for cancer specific issues, but requires foundational understanding of cancer care concepts and competencies to provide the best care to patients
Many Nurses

Demonstrate the ability to apply core knowledge and competencies in cancer care at a more comprehensive level in specific care contexts.

  • Participate more frequently or for intensive periods in the care of people affected by cancer
  • May be specialized in another area and are addressing patient’s specific healthcare needs often related to cancer (ie. Enterostomal therapy, Interventional radiology) or their work context or setting has larger volumes of cancer patients (ie. Surgical oncology inpatient units, palliative care)
  • Nurses demonstrate capabilities at an enhanced level and require increased knowledge of specialized cancer care to apply to their role or context
Some Nurses

Demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge and competencies according to standards for specialized cancer nurses.

  • Nurses whose primary focus is with cancer care either at a specific phase of the cancer journey (ie. radiation, Diagnostic Assessment Programs, chemo) or across the cancer continuum (ie. disease site, navigator)
  • Nurses need to demonstrate specialized cancer knowledge in combination with cancer nursing experience
  • Aligned with CANO Standards and Competencies for the Specialized Oncology Nurse
Few Nurses

Demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge and competencies for specialized cancer nurses at an advanced level or in expanded practice roles.

  • Nurses practice in an advanced and/or expanded practice role in cancer care with graduate level preparation (e.g. Clinical Nurse Specialists and Nurse Practitioners)
  • Builds on the CANO Standards and Competencies for the Specialized Oncology Nurse and requires increased practice knowledge for providing care to patients with greater complexity, requiring advanced clinical decision making and enhanced leadership competencies impacting at organizational and population levels

* Aranda S, Yates P. A national professional development framework for cancer nursing. 2nd edn. Canberra:The National Cancer Nursing Education Project (EdCaN), Cancer Australia; 2009


Last updated: Feb 5, 2018

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