Planned changes to cancer follow up services at UHS

The cancer care centre at UHS has been working with the Department of Health, Macmillan Cancer Support and primary care partners to review breast, testicular and colorectal services to identify ways to improve the patient pathway for cancer survivors.

Growth in the number of people surviving cancer has led to a substantial increase in those requiring follow up care and evidence suggests the current arrangements – which usually involve routine outpatient appointments at cancer centres – are not meeting the needs of cancer survivors following treatment.

The majority of recurrences of cancer are not detected at follow up appointments but either by patients themselves or by investigations which can be planned and undertaken without a patient having to attend a routine outpatient clinic appointment. 

As a result, cancer patients who are suitable are being offered a new follow up approach in these areas, which requires fewer visits to the hospital.

During treatment patients will receive comprehensive information and advice about the effects of treatment and symptoms that might indicate cancer recurrence. Following treatment they will continue to undergo regular surveillance tests and imaging and will be notified of the results.

However, patients will only attend the clinic if an abnormal result is found or they have concerns about cancer recurrence or complications of treatment.

Dr Peter Simmonds, consultant medical oncologist, said: “Reducing unnecessary follow up appointments will free up resources which can be utilised earlier in the patient’s pathway and allow rapid access for those patients with concerns about recurrence or complications.”

For more information on this project please see www.ncsi.org.uk

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Mammogram - image courtesy of Cancer Research UK

Image courtesy of Cancer Research UK