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At the beginning of December last year, a group of Breast Cancer Care staff and volunteers went to Downing Street to deliver our petition on secondary breast cancer (pictured).

The petition was signed by 12,013 people and called on the UK and devolved governments to make secondary breast cancer a priority, and improve care and support for people living with the disease.

Minister replies

We have now received a response from Jane Ellison MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and the government minister with responsibility for cancer.

In her letter, the Minister recognises that more needs to be done on secondary breast cancer, including on a number of areas on which we've campaigned recently.

Recognising the issues 

She begins by writing:

'I appreciate your concerns. We know that women should have access to the highest quality of care and treatment.'

We have regularly campaigned on the need for consistent and robust collection of data on secondary breast cancer so that the NHS can plan services better to meet the needs of people living with the disease. It is encouraging that this point was recognised in the letter:

'To improve the diagnosis and treatment of women with secondary breast cancer, we need to ensure that we have good data about those affected.'

Jane Ellison also remarked on the need to improve the care that people with secondary breast cancer receive, saying,

'[W]e do know that patients with secondary cancer or recurrence of cancer have a worse experience and are less likely to have a clinical nurse specialist.'

Finally, the letter points to a recent debate in Parliament that discussed secondary breast cancer.

Overall, the response from the government is positive, with a recognition that more can and should be done to support people living with secondary breast cancer.

It is clear that our petition has helped keep this issue on the government’s agenda. We'll continue to campaign for change so that care is improved.

Read Jane Ellison's letter in full.

Post date: 29 January 2015

Responding to the announcement today (Wednesday 28 January 2015) that some older breast cancer patients could safely skip radiotherapy, Dr Emma Pennery CBE, Clinical Director at Breast Cancer Care, says:

“At Breast Cancer Care, we know that some older women find the prospect of radiotherapy such a burden they opt to have a mastectomy to avoid it. So this research will be hugely welcomed by many patients.

“Radiotherapy can cause side effects such as pain and fatigue, which can be very daunting. Existing health conditions or reduced mobility also mean some older women have a lot of difficulty attending regular radiotherapy sessions.

“However, this study is on a group of patients with a particular kind of breast cancer. Findings also show rates of local recurrence were nearly 3% higher in women who didn’t have radiotherapy treatment. Radiotherapy is still a highly effective treatment for many women with breast cancer.”

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For media enquiries, please contact:
Sophie Softley Pierce, Press Officer, Breast Cancer Care
020 7960 3505 (out of hours 07702 901 334)
Sophie.pierce@breastcancercare.org.uk

Notes to editors

About Breast Cancer Care
Breast Cancer Care is the only specialist breast cancer support charity working throughout the UK. We were founded in 1973 by Betty Westgate, who was herself diagnosed with breast cancer. In the ensuing forty years we have supported millions of women and their families through our face-to-face, phone and online services. We also provide training, support and networking opportunities to specialist breast cancer nurses, and Breast Cancer Care publications are used by the majority of breast cancer units throughout the UK. We campaign for better support and care and promote the importance of early detection, involving people with breast cancer in all that we do. Visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk or call our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.

Post date: 28 January 2015


6058 A study* suggesting some older women with breast cancer could safely avoid radiotherapy without harming their chances of survival should not undermine people’s confidence in the effectiveness of this treatment, says our Clinical Director Dr Emma Pennery.

Responding to the research from University of Edinburgh’s Cancer Research Centre, she added:

‘This study is on a group of patients with a particular kind of breast cancer. Findings also show rates of local recurrence were nearly 3% higher in women who didn’t have radiotherapy treatment.

Radiotherapy is still a highly effective treatment for many women with breast cancer.’

Professor Ian Kunkler from the research centre said:

‘Radiotherapy will remain the standard of care for most women after breast-conserving surgery.’

Read our full press statement with more details of the study and our response.

Individual treatment plans

The research is welcome but every case of breast cancer is unique, and different treatment choices suit different people.

Because we talk to thousands of people affected by breast cancer every year, we know some older women choose to have a mastectomy in order to avoid radiotherapy and its possible side effects, such as pain and fatigue. And some have existing health conditions or reduced mobility so that they have a lot of difficulty attending regular radiotherapy sessions.

Treatment decisions should always be made based on your individual circumstances and discussed with your treatment team.

We're here to help

If you’d like more support and information about this issue or any other breast cancer or breast health concern, call us free on 0808 800 6000. You can also email our Ask The Nurse service. 

*The results of the study have been published in the journal Lancet Oncology.

 

Post date: 28 January 2015

A breast cancer support charity is launching an interactive new service supporting women after they have finished breast cancer treatment.

Breast Cancer Care has found that the emotional and physical side effects of a breast cancer diagnosis can continue long after people have finished their treatment. Often at this time there is a real lack of specialist support available locally, which can leave people feeling isolated and abandoned.

To help patients receive the tailored support they need, the charity is launching PROWESS (Promoting Recovery, Wellbeing, Equality and Support in Survivorship), a unique series of face-to-face sessions over five weeks, starting in March.

The service will run in Deptford and will give people of all ethnic backgrounds the opportunity to have their specific questions and concerns addressed by experts and trained volunteers at informal workshops. The sessions also offer the chance to talk to someone else who has had a breast cancer diagnosis, understands how they may be feeling.

Lorraine Marke, 52 years old, from Forest Hill, was diagnosed with breast cancer almost five year ago and is a volunteer for the new service. She says:

“I was very upbeat and positive throughout my hospital treatment, but once it ended the reality of my diagnosis hit me and my mood sunk. I had been going to the hospital weekly for over a year and so when I was discharged I felt totally lost.

“I was struggling to adjust and was dealing with awful side effects. Though the support of my family and friends was amazing I really wanted to speak to someone who had also been there. That’s why I’m so happy to be a volunteer at the PROWESS service to help other women diagnosed with breast cancer know they aren’t alone and there is somewhere to turn and people to speak to in their community.”

Ben Langston, Service Development Manager, at Breast Cancer Care, says:

“We are very excited to be piloting this brand new service in South London. We know that cancer doesn’t stop after you finish hospital treatment and this free service will provide vital support that’s easy to access in the local community.

“PROWESS will offer information and guidance on topics such as treatment side effects, healthy lifestyle and hair and skin care, all tailored to the specific requests from people in the group.

“Anyone who has finished their hospital based treatment for breast cancer in the last 12 months is welcome to come along, but sign up soon as places are running out fast.”

The first session will be held on Wednesday 11 March 2015 from 10am - 2pm at Deptford Lounge and will continue weekly. To book a place or for more information contact Jennifer at Breast Cancer Care on 020 7960 3424 or email jennifer.finnegan-john@breastcancercare.org.uk

-Ends-

For media enquiries, please contact:

Sophie Softley Pierce, Press & PR Officer at Breast Cancer Care
020 7960 3505 (out of hours 07702 901 334)
sophie.pierce@breastcancercare.org.uk

Interviews with spokespeople from Breast Cancer Care and volunteers helping to run the service can be arranged.

Notes to editors:

PROWESS
Breast Cancer Care’s PROWESS (Promoting Recovery, Wellbeing, Equality and Support in Survivorship) service is open to anyone who has finished their hospital treatment for breast cancer in the last 12 months. It lasts for five half days over five weeks.

The March sessions will be held on Wednesday, 11, 18 and 25 March from 10am-2pm at Deptford Lounge, 9 Giffin Street, Deptford, London SE8 4RJ. To book a place contact Jennifer at Breast Cancer Care on 020 7960 3424 or email jennifer.finnegan-john@breastcancercare.org.uk

About Breast Cancer Care
Breast Cancer Care is the only specialist breast cancer support charity working throughout the UK. We were founded in 1973 by Betty Westgate, who was herself diagnosed with breast cancer. In the ensuing forty years we have supported millions of women and their families through our face-to-face, phone and online services. We also provide training, support and networking opportunities to specialist breast cancer nurses, and Breast Cancer Care publications are used by the majority of breast cancer units throughout the UK. We campaign for better support and care and promote the importance of early detection, involving people with breast cancer in all that we do. Visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk or call our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.

Post date: 27 January 2015

Responding to a paper published in Annals of Oncology today (Tuesday 27 January) revealing that lung cancer is predicted to overtake breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer death among European women in 2015, Samia al Qadhi, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Care, says:

“It is welcome news to hear of the predicted fall of 10% in European death rates from breast cancer in women - and this trend is likely to continue.

“However, we must not rest on our laurels. Almost 12,000 people still die from breast cancer in the UK every year and we know many women with secondary – incurable - breast cancer are not getting the support they so desperately need.

“By 2020, there will be an estimated 840,000 people living with breast cancer in the UK.While more survive, many will be living with gruelling and long-lasting effects from treatments. Breast Cancer Care urgently needs more support as never has the charity been needed more.” 

For media enquiries contact Breast Cancer Care's Press office on 020 7960 3463 (out of hours 07702 901 334)

Projections of cancer prevalence in the United Kingdom, 2010–2040, J Maddams, M Utley and H Møller, p 1197 British Journal of Cancer (2012) 107, Table 3 - Complete prevalence in the United Kingdom, 2010–2040, by cancer type and sex, under projection scenario 1.

Post date: 27 January 2015