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Saturday 10th December 2016
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Cancer after care 'not good enough'

30th September 2010

Oncologist and medical advisor for Macmillan Cancer Support, Professor Jane Maher, says that the NHS is letting down cancer survivors.

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The growing number of people who are surviving cancer brings with it an increased demand on the NHS for aftercare and checks.

But the current system is not the most effective way to spot many recurrent cancers.

With about two million people in the UK who have survived cancer – a figure that will reach four million by 2030 – all need some form of post-treatment support.

But there is little evidence that the current "follow-up" system to check that the cancer has not returned is the best way to identify problems or other health issues related to the treatment.

Recent work suggests that around 70% of recurrence of breast cancer could be detected either by patients noticing symptoms themselves or by surveillance testing alone, with a face-to-face appointment if needed.

But this only works if patients are given the information to help them understand their condition.

With few NHS services specifically for cancer survivors, the health service needs to radically transform the way it provides support for patients following hospital treatment.

Doctors need to identify the patients who need regular appointments and those who can be helped to manage their own condition.

This change in the way aftercare is provided would be cost effective and reduce the need for unnecessary follow-up appointments.

In turn, this will free up resources which can be reinvested in the new aftercare services for people with cancer.

 

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