Oncological foot


Oncological footcare provider

An oncological footcare provider (OVV) provides foot care to cancer patients. An OVV is trained to screen feet, recognise side-effects of medical treatments such as chemotherapy. Moreover, if the situation allows for it, an OVV takes care of the feet and is in close contact about it with the oncological treatment team. An OVV can also take preventive measures to avoid future problems.

The aim of oncological footcare is to support the safety and health of the cancer patient. Please note: This footcare will always be provided in coordination with the oncological treatment team.

The treatment of cancer

Someone who undergoes medical cancer treatment may experience side effects. For example, chemotherapy or immunotherapy can cause side effects on the nails and skin of the feet. Treatment can also lead to nerve damage, thereby affecting mobility.

Physical resistance may also be low during a certain period of the treatment. Not only for the oncological treatment team, but also for other healthcare providers, it is important to know when such a period occurs; in that case, certain actions may not be performed.

An oncological treatment team comprises a number of specialists: a medical doctor (usually an oncologist), nursing specialists, oncology nurses and psychosocial care providers. Therefore, good communication and attention to the quality of life is of great importance. The patient and all members of the oncological treatment team plus all supportive care providers need to be in close contact.

For the treatment team it is important to know that they can safely direct cancer patients with foot problems to an OVV.

The OVV specialization was started partly as a result of a survey held in 2013 among 8,000 foot care providers in the Netherlands: 80% of them indicated they regularly had people in their practice who were in cancer treatment, and they voiced their insufficient knowledge of cancer, its treatments and its side effects. Back then, they said they could not guarantee safe foot care.

Training and experience

Consequently, an OVV is trained to treat the feet of people who have cancer, are undergoing cancer treatment, have survived cancer or are receiving palliative care. An OVV has followed a highly specialized training: 5 days comprehensive theory and 5 days of intensive practical treatment. The practical part consists of an internship at an oncology department of a hospital, a walk-in home for cancer patients and a hospice. Foot care programs for cancer patients are only applied with the consent of the treating specialist. A fully trained OVV is a foot care professional with at least 5 years of practical experience.

Intake interview

When someone is in treatment for cancer, an OVV always consults with the treating specialist before a foot care treatment is started.

Signal function

The skin and nails have an important signaling function. Changes may be an indication for referral to the oncology treatment team. An OVV can thus play an important role.


Before a cancer patient is treated, an OVV can screen the feet. During this examination, the feet are checked for skin and foot problems. Possible observations can be important for the treatment. It is important to bring – and keep – the feet into optimal condition during and after the treatment.

Hand and foot syndrome

A common side effect of chemotherapy is “hand and foot syndrome”. Possible complaints are: blisters, infections, itching, pain or sensitivity, redness, flaking or peeling skin or swelling on both feet at the same time. If these symptoms occur, it is necessary that the patient inform the treating medical specialist.

OVV treatment

An OVV treatment comprises the following: removing pathological calluses, thinning thickened nails, regulating ingrown nails and repairing split nails. A relaxing foot and lower leg massage is also an option. A special massage technique is the applied, avoiding any form of pressure. An OVV knows when this massage may or may not be applied. For some forms of cancer or its side effects stemming from cancer treatment, any form of massage is contraindicated.


People diagnosed with cancer have received bad news. Therefore, if a cancer patient would like to share some of it with the OVV, he or she knows how to deal with it in a empathic, professional way. Of course, the entire conversations is entirely confidential.

Oncological Foot Care Provider(OVV)

Treatment by an OVV always takes place in co-operation with a medical specialist or oncology nurse. If the cancer patient is referred to the OVV by the hospital or general practitioner, he/she will receive a referral letter. The OVV links the care process back to the medical specialist or oncology nurse referrer.

If you are a cancer patient, it is important that you inform your OVV if you any treatment. Tell him/her when the last chemotherapy or radiation treatment took place and who your oncologist and general practitioner are. A cancer patient may not simply undergo a foot care program. An OVV may consult with your medical specialist.

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