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Breast cancer after care 'lacking'

18th January 2008

Experts have claimed women being treated for breast cancer in the UK are not receiving the best follow up care.

Two leading surgeons have suggested check ups should continue for at least a decade instead of the timescale in the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

NICE says there should be hospital follow-ups over two or three years to spot new tumours or cancer recurrence but the surgeons warn 70% of cancer occurs after the first three years.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, Michael Dixon, who is a consultant surgeon at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital and colleague David Montgomery from Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary say protocols vary widely across the UK.

They recommend patients be checked annually for two years, with regular mammography screening after that.

They said: “Mammography is a very effective way to detect treatable local disease, and fully funded mammographic surveillance programmes specifically for patients with breast cancer are urgently needed.?

The charity Breast Cancer Care said there was too much inconsistency in the way NICE follow-up guidelines were interpreted causing anxiety and confusion among patients. It also said more could be done to meet the psychological and emotional needs of patients.

NICE said it is reviewing the recommendations as part of its clinical guideline on the diagnosis and treatment of early breast cancer due to be published in February 2009.

Figures show more than 1.2 million patients are diagnosed with breast cancer each year but with improved screening and treatment they are living longer.

 

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M. Whitehead

Sunday 20th January 2008 @ 20:50

Us breast cancer patients are followed at 3-month intervals for the first two to three years after treatment, and then every 6 mos. after that for two years - total of 5 years of follow-up care. This covers not only the possibility that the chemo regimen administered might have failed, but the possibilities for metastasis from the original site. The mental health of patients who have survived past 5 years needs to be addressed, and this is not done in the US. Wellbeing means following the whole person, and not just doing diagnostics. Until diagnostics are FAR better, breast cancer patients need to advocate for all care which leads to survival and great health.


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