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There’s been media coverage today (Thursday 28 August) of research that suggests many people with cancer who are clinically depressed aren't getting the treatment they need.*

Meanwhile another recent study has highlighted that more than 9% of people with breast cancer may experience major depression. This work also indicates that it's more  likely in younger patients and people from areas of social deprivation.

Depression can be a normal response to trauma and a way of coping, which means that the impact of breast cancer will cause depression in some people. This can happen at any stage during diagnosis and treatment, or after treatment has finished.

But because it can sap your energy and decision-making, it may be difficult to recognise that you have a condition that can be treated.

Realising that there is a problem and getting help is the most important thing you can do.

How to recognise depression

If negative thoughts are interfering with your life and don’t go away within a few weeks, or keep coming back, it may be because you’re depressed. Do you have any of the following symptoms?

  • loss of enjoyment and interest in everyday things and experiences
  • loss of interest in your appearance
  • persistent thoughts such as ‘I can’t be bothered’ or ‘What’s the point?’
  • withdrawing from others, such as not going out or socialising
  • feeling more tearful and irritable than usual
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty sleeping or wanting to sleep all the time
  • loss of appetite or overeating
  • feeling very low in mood or even suicidal.

You don’t have to ignore these feelings and struggle on. Talk to your GP (local doctor) or hospital team. They can refer you to a counsellor, psychiatrist or psychologist for help and support.

Support and treatment for depression

5242 There are several treatments for depression, including talking therapies and antidepressants. Some self-help techniques may also help.

Find out more about talking therapies

Find out more about antidepressants

Find out more about self help techniques.

Someone to talk to

You can call our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000 to talk to someone who understands this issue, or about any other breast cancer or breast health concern.

If you prefer, you can email a Breast Cancer Care nurse. All the emails we receive are treated confidentially.

Samaritans provides confidential, non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair. You can call 08457 90 90 90 or email jo@samaritans.org

 

*Cancer nurses and psychiatrists delivered a depression care programme and compared this to standard care. In the depression care programme the nurses established a relationship with the patients, provided information about depression and its treatment, delivered brief evidence-based psychological interventions and monitored patients’ progress. This involved signposting to the GP and referring patients to mental health services if necessary. The treatment response was much improved in the depression care group.

Post date: 28 August 2014

NHS England has announced (Thursday 28 August) that the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) is to get an additional £160 million in funding over the next two years.

Who this helps

The CDF allows patients in England to access cancer drugs not routinely funded by the NHS. The increase in funding will boost the annual £200m fund by 40% to £280m. 

5246 Increased investment in the CDF will mean some people living with breast cancer will have continued access to new drugs. But more needs to be done to ensure the Fund's sustainability as it is due to end in two years.

The Fund is only available in England so this increase does not provide answers for women living in other parts of the UK who are also dealing with the burden of living with cancer and anxiety about access to treatments.

What we need

What we really need to see is the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the Department of Health and the pharmaceutical industry working together to find an efficient new system in place of the current one where decisions are deferred to the CDF and life-extending drugs can be rejected for routine funding by the NHS; an effcient new system that ensures all patients across the UK can benefit from new approved treatments.

Post date: 28 August 2014

5056 If you have lost all or part of a breast after surgery for breast cancer, you’ll be offered a breast prosthesis. This is an artificial breast form that restores the shape of all or part of the breast.

Immediately after an operation you’ll be offered a temporary prosthesis known as a softie or cumfie. Once your scar area is healed and any swelling has gone down – usually within six to eight weeks – you’ll have the chance to be fitted with a more permanent silicone prosthesis.

The fitting and supply of a prosthesis after surgery is usually organised by your breast care nurse and should be quite straightforward. If you don’t have a breast care nurse there’ll be someone at the hospital who can arrange this for you.

Replacing your prosthesis

The prosthesis will have a guarantee but there may come a time when you need a replacement; if it wears out or if your body shape alters, through weight change, for example.  But it seems that practice on replacement of NHS prostheses has been changing.

All our free patient information is reviewed and updated regularly. While researching information about replacing prostheses for our booklet Breast prostheses, bras and clothes after surgery, we discovered that replacement practices vary throughout the UK and depending on whether you have been discharged from the hospital or not.

  • If you are still attending hospital follow-up appointments, you can contact your breast clinic to ask about a replacement. They will let you know the local procedure.
  • If you have been discharged by the hospital your GP (local doctor) can refer you to the local breast clinic or prosthesis fitting service.
  • If you had your surgery privately, ask your insurance company if it covers the cost of future replacement prostheses. If not, you can ask your GP to refer you to an NHS breast clinic or prosthesis fitter for a replacement.

When arranging for a new prosthesis, it’s always a good idea to have a reassessment as your shape may have changed or there may be new prosthesis styles for you to choose from.

You can find our more in our free booklet Breast prostheses, bras and clothes after surgery.

Download or order it now

Post date: 26 August 2014

When people are going through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, we know it can often help to hear from others who've been through the same thing.

That's why we've set up our web-based discussion Forum, a safe space where you can talk online to a community of people affected by breast cancer.

And it's why people such as Sylvia report getting so much from our Someone Like Me service. This service connects you by phone or email with a trained volunteer who's had a similar experience.

Sylvia said: ‘I don’t  feel alone anymore. It was so good to speak with someone who had been through the same experience. Knowing they were happy and healthy gave me hope it would be the same for me.’

Video stories

It's also why many of our volunteers are prepared to share their stories in public, such as the women and men who've contribtued the videos currently featured on Vita online, the website of our free breast cancer magazine Vita.

In these videos, 10 people talk openly about what having breast cancer has been like for them. They share their fears, hopes and experiences, all of them motivated by the idea that something in their stories will help other people affected by breast cancer.

And if you want to share them with others, the video stories, such as Christine's below, are also available to download from iTunes on our podcasting channel, where we add new materials every few weeks.

Everyone’s experience of breast cancer is different. The videos contain the interviewees' understanding of their own diagnosis and treatment and should not be viewed as clinical advice or information. The views in the videos are those of the participants and do not represent the views of Breast Cancer Care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post date: 22 August 2014

Here at Breast Cancer Care, we host the Nursing Network. It's a UK-wide membership body providing training and networking opportunities for healthcare professionals who spend 50% or more of their time with breast cancer patients.

Launched in 2010, it aims to ensure that patients receive the best possible standard of care and support.  

 Emma Burns, our Chair of Trustees, explains why this work is so important.

‘I know the difference a skilled breast care nurse can make and that’s why Breast Cancer Care works so closely with healthcare professionals. Supporting them through the Nursing Network continues to be one of our priorities. Together we can have a positive impact on patient care and experience.’

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We help members by showcasing their work through the Nursing Network Awards, championing specific patient needs and driving change in the clinical setting, supporting best practice through conferences and giving members a voice to speak up, be heard and influence the national agenda.

We're delighted that more than 1,000 healthcare professionals have now joined the network, including about 95% of breast care nurses and clinical nurse specialists across the UK.

This gives us the potential to reach everyone living with or beyond breast cancer so that they know we're here if they need any of our services.

If you are a healthcare professional who spends at least half your working life with breast cancer patients, then don't wait.

Sign up today

 

 

Post date: 20 August 2014