Good question...I found a good link for you, I will copy it below and paste in some of the info as well. Good luck!
Prior to 1950, the major cancer treatment method was surgery, and the role of the nurse was limited to inpatient care of the hospitalized surgical patient. As chemotherapy and radiation therapy evolved as treatment methods, nurses looked for opportunities to contribute to cancer care.
It was not until the 1970s that major advances occurred in the areas of cancer treatment and oncology nursing. The 1971 National Cancer Act provided impetus for a comprehensive program focused on reducing the incidence, morbidity, and mortality of cancer. Cancer survival rates improved, and nursing experienced a shift that expanded roles and acknowledged the importance of professionalism in nursing. The result was nursing involvement in educational programs that focused on oncology nursing as a specialty nursing area.
Over the years, oncology nursing continued to develop in response to:
Needs of individuals with cancer, at risk for developing cancer,
or surviving cancer;
National and international recognition of cancer as a major chronic health problem;
Advances in science and technology, and
Changes in perceptions of cancer within the lay and professional
These driving forces continue to require nursing practice that has a specialized focus in caring for individuals and families experiencing cancer.