Debra Barton, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.

Mitigating Symptoms Throughout Cancer Treatment

Research Area: Symptom Science

Portrait of Debra Barton, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.
Debra Barton, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.
Mitigating Symptoms Throughout Cancer Treatment

Nurse educator and scientist Debra Barton, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., has dedicated her career to mitigating many of the difficult symptoms patients experience throughout the trajectory of cancer care, from diagnosis to survivorship.

She has been one of the most prolific nurse scientists conducting research in the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). She has served as the principal investigator on more than 15 randomized clinical trials in symptom management. Her research focuses on preventing and treating symptoms such as hot flashes, fatigue, nausea, and peripheral neuropathy, as well as studying the impact on sexual health, cognitive function, and sleep.

A key finding in one trial demonstrated ginseng tea’s ability to ease cancer-related fatigue, while another found a topical treatment could lessen patients’ debilitating nerve pain from treatment-associated neuropathies.

Dr. Barton has been instrumental in evaluating herbal remedies and mind-body interventions to improve patients’ symptoms or self-image after diagnosis with breast and other cancers. “It's real-ly important to let women know what the range of potential symptoms and changes might be, and to remind them that it is possible to try and keep some kind of normalcy throughout their treatment so that it's not so much of a change to get back to their normal life after treatment,” she said in an interview with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Dr. Barton holds the positions of Mary Lou Willard French professor of oncology nursing and associate dean for research and graduate studies at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. Among other career affiliations, she is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (F.A.A.N.). She served as co-chair of the NCI Symptom Management and Quality of Life Steering Committee for two terms and currently is one of two representatives from the NRG NCORP Research Base. She served as editor-in-chief for 4 years on the Physician Data Query (PDQ) Supportive and Palliative Care Editorial Board, which provides summaries of current advances in supportive and palliative care to patients and providers.

To learn more about Dr. Barton, read her University of Michigan profile.