Supporting women with Secondary Breast Cancer

Women living with Secondary Breast Cancer are benefiting from a new focus on support and information tailored to their needs.

Since Royal Surrey became a signatory to the Secondary Breast Cancer Pledge a raft of patient-led initiatives have been introduced. These have improved the wellbeing of hundreds of women in Surrey, Sussex and London who have a Secondary Breast Cancer diagnosis which is where their cancer has spread beyond their original tumour.

Among the changes are:

  • follow up appointments with all patients diagnosed with secondary breast cancer around a week after diagnosis
  • better communications between oncology and other departments so that patients get the care they need in a timely manner
  • an informative, designated area about the breast unit on the Royal Surrey website
  • a new patient information leaflet giving details of the care and support that patients can expect

The Secondary Breast Cancer Pledge is a nationwide initiative which is led by Breast Cancer Now and Breast Cancer Care. Around 36,000 people are living with secondary breast cancer in the UK and although secondary breast cancer cannot be cured it can be treated and controlled, sometimes for a number of years.

According to Breast Cancer Care, 72 per cent of hospital organisations in England, Scotland and Wales do not provide access to a dedicated secondary breast care nurse.  A lack of available data means that 40 per cent of hospitals across the UK do not know how many secondary breast cancer patients are currently under their care.

Sue Nash, a Clinical Nurse Specialist Secondary in Breast Cancer, who is leading Royal Surrey’s pledge said:  “We became aware that many women with secondary breast cancer were not receiving the on-going, specialised care they need when they are diagnosed with this disease.

“With the support of Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now we held a focus group with secondary breast cancer patients to highlight the issues that they thought needed improvement.”

The survey focus group threw up a wide range of issues ranging from a lack of information about access to psychological and financial support to having to stay for long periods of time in the waiting area when appointments are running late.  Their comments led to Royal Surrey introducing seven service improvement goals, six of which have already been delivered.

“The benefits have already been proven as patient admissions have been reduced,” said Sue.

“There has also been a dramatic reduction in patient calls. Most importantly, our patients now tell us they feel very well supported and are living well with their cancer.

“Our Health Care professionals are also much more aware of what services we can provide for our patients and what support those patients need.”

 

©2019 Royal Surrey County Hospital

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