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Breast Cancer Care blog

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

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When a woman or a man is diagnosed with breast cancer, the impact ripples outwards, affecting many people. Family, friends, colleagues, employers… the list goes on.

Being the partner of someone with breast cancer can be particularly difficult as the diagnosis and treatments make themselves felt in one of your closest personal relationships.

Strong emotions

Watching your partner go through such difficult experiences can have a huge impact on you, both physically and emotionally. At different times, you may feel shock, anger, acceptance, fear, relief, anxiety, exhaustion and strength.

Many people describe this cycle of strong feelings as an ‘emotional rollercoaster’, although no two people will have exactly the same experience.

Some couples find that the situation brings them closer together, others that it drives them apart.

You may find that your role changes and people – including your partner, family, colleagues and friends – have new or different expectations of you. What you expect of yourself as a partner may also change.

To help you cope with all this, you need to look after yourself as much as those around you.

We can help

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 If you’d like to find out more about how other people such as you have been affected, our online discussion Forum has a dedicated area for partners, relatives and friends of people with breast cancer.

We can also put you in touch by phone or email with someone who’s had a similar experience to yours through our Someone Like Me service. 

And we’ve just updated our free booklet In it together: for partners of people with breast cancer. You can order or download it now.

If you’d like to talk in confidence to one of the experts on our free Helpline, please call 0808 800 6000. They’ll give you as much time as you need to talk through this issue or any other breast cancer or breast health concern.

Post date: 18 August 2014

When Helpline staff talk to people calling with breast health or breast cancer questions, it’s vital that the information we give is clinically accurate and of a high standard. So the team works hard to keep our clinical knowledge up to date.

Update days

Twice a year we have an update day where we hear from expert speakers. For example, we’ve recently had talks on cancer research trials, targeted therapies and meeting the needs of people living with secondary breast cancer.

Our next update is in November and we’re getting organised early to ensure we can book high-calibre speakers, this time on cancer genetics and chemotherapy.

Study days and conferences

5031 There are many breast cancer-related events each year. We choose them carefully, going to those that will be the most helpful and cost-effective. Anyone who attends a study day or conference briefs the rest of the team afterwards.

Events so far this year have included breast reconstruction and fertility following breast cancer treatment.

Online learning and teleconferences

These can be fitted around our working commitments and we get to hear what’s going on internationally as well as in the UK. One I took part in recently was on breast cancer genetics.

Also, because our work involves supporting breast care nurses and other breast cancer healthcare professionals, we run our own teleconference programme. This year we've done a session on drug treatment that aims to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women who are at a higher risk of developing it and one on altered body image

NHS services

As well as clinical information, it’s important we know about NHS services and any changes taking place. We work closely with NHS nurses and doctors: most of the team here has worked in the NHS at some point and we keep in touch with our colleagues.

Daily news

We have a news service to let us know about any media stories.

If the way the media interprets a story concerns us, or we feel people will call about an item for any reason, we’re able to check the facts behind the stories by looking into the original study or other background information.

Tailored learning

If any of the Helpline team wants an update on a particular topic, I look into the most suitable learning resource to meet that need. This might include an online presentation or some one-to-one time with a member of our Clinical team.

We’ve recently tried out a new evidence-based resource that we hope will help us find more information we need faster. This is really useful if someone is waiting on the phone for some answers.

We’re here to help

As you can see, we use a whole range of ways to make sure that when you ring us with a breast cancer or breast health concern, you can be confident you’re talking to someone who understands what you’re going through and who has the knowledge to answer to your queries.

Call us on 0808 800 6000

  • You can read about a typical day for Jane on our Helpline by subscribing to In touch, our twice-yearly newsletter for our fundraising supporters.

 

Post date: 11 August 2014

Responding to today’s decision (Friday 8 August 2014) by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) not to recommend NHS access in England to the targeted breast cancer drug trastuzumab emtansine (also known as Kadcyla), Emma Pennery, Clinical Director at Breast Cancer Care says:

“Kadcyla being rejected from routine NHS access will come as another devastating blow to women with HER-2 positive advanced breast cancer, denying them the chance of a longer and much better quality of life. Women affected by breast cancer share with us every day their profound anxiety around being able to get access to the treatments they need, on top of the already huge emotional burden of living with cancer.

“Access to best treatment and care for people with advanced breast cancer urgently needs addressing. Worryingly, almost every drug appraised by NICE in the last three years for this group of patients has been rejected. The Cancer Drugs Fund enables access to some drugs rejected by NICE but it’s clearly an inadequate solution being an England-only scheme and due to terminate in 2016.

“NICE, the Department of Health and the pharmaceutical industry must work together to identify a new way forward that takes into account both human and economic impact; drugs must be clinically effective and financially affordable, but their effectiveness must also be measured on the improved quality of life they offer. Until then, women with advanced breast cancer will continue to carry the burden of being denied access to drugs that could prolong and significantly enhance their life.”

 For media enquiries contact the Press team on 020 7960 3463 and press@breastcancercare.org.uk 

Post date: 08 August 2014

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will not recommend a drug called T-DM1 (Kadcyla), which is used to treat a type of secondary breast cancer, for use on the NHS.

Responding to the news, Emma Pennery, Clinical Director at Breast Cancer Care, said: ‘Kadcyla being rejected from routine NHS access will come as another devastating blow to women with HER-2 positive advanced breast cancer, denying them the chance of a longer and much better quality of life. Women affected by breast cancer share with us every day their profound anxiety around being able to get access to the treatments they need, on top of the already huge emotional burden of living with cancer.

‘Access to best treatment and care for people with advanced breast cancer urgently needs addressing. Worryingly, almost every drug appraised by NICE in the last three years for this group of patients has been rejected.’

Secondary breast cancer occurs when cancer cells from the breast have spread to other parts of the body such as the bones, lungs, liver or brain. While drugs can be used to control secondary breast cancer, often for several years, it cannot be cured.

What is T-DM1?

T-DM1 (also known as trastuzumab emtansine or by the brand name Kadcyla) consists of two drugs linked together: a targeted therapy called trastuzumab (Herceptin), and a chemotherapy drug called DM1 (also known as emtansine).

It delivers the chemotherapy drug DM1 directly into the breast cancer cells, where it can destroy the cancer cells but leave normal cells relatively unharmed. This means that people in clinical trials had fewer side effects than with standard chemotherapy drugs alone.

Find out more about T-DM1, including its potential side effects.

T-DM1 can be used to treat people with HER2 positive secondary breast cancer or regional recurrence (where surgery is not possible), who have already had trastuzumab and chemotherapy drugs called taxanes, either together or separately.

Why has NICE decided not to recommend T-DM1?

In a statement, NICE said that it was ‘disappointed’ that the drug’s manufacturer Roche ‘has decided not to offer its new treatment at a price that would enable it to be available for routine use in the NHS’.

Roche meanwhile insists that ‘NICE’s rejection comes despite Roche offering to cut the price of the drug’.

NICE’s decision means the drug won’t be routinely prescribed by doctors in the NHS.

T-DM1 may be available through the Cancer Drugs Fund in England. However, as Dr Pennery says: ‘The Cancer Drugs Fund enables access to some drugs rejected by NICE but it’s clearly an inadequate solution being an England-only scheme and due to terminate in 2016.

‘NICE, the Department of Health and the pharmaceutical industry must work together to identify a new way forward that takes into account both human and economic impact; drugs must be clinically effective and financially affordable, but their effectiveness must also be measured on the improved quality of life they offer. Until then, women with advanced breast cancer will continue to carry the burden of being denied access to drugs that could prolong and significantly enhance their life.’

Information about secondary breast cancer

You can find more information on treatments for secondary breast cancer and living with secondary breast cancer on our website.

Breast Cancer Care’s free and confidential Helpline is available to anyone with questions about secondary breast cancer – call 0808 800 6000 for more information.

Post date: 08 August 2014