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Found 541 results
  1. Content Article
    Breast cancer related lymphoedema (BRCL) is an under-recognised health condition that occurs in 20% of women after receiving breast cancer treatment. BRCL can affect a patient's physical and mental health and is costly to the NHS. In this blog, James Moore, a biomedical engineering researcher at Imperial College, talks about how he has involved patients in designing an innovative solution to this issue.  
  2. News Article
    Many people with breast cancer are being “systematically left behind” due to inaction on inequities and hidden suffering, experts have said. A new global report suggests people with the condition are continuing to face glaring inequalities and significant adversity, much of which remains unacknowledged by wider society and policymakers. The Lancet Breast Cancer Commission highlights a need for better communication between medical staff and patients, and stresses the importance of early detection. It also highlights the need for improved awareness of breast cancer risk factors, with almost one in four cases (23%) of the disease estimated to be preventable. The Lancet Commission’s lead author, Professor Charlotte Coles, department of oncology, University of Cambridge, said: “Recent improvements in breast cancer survival represent a great success of modern medicine. “However, we can’t ignore how many patients are being systematically left behind. “Our commission builds on previous evidence, presents new data and integrates patient voices to shed light on a large unseen burden. “We hope that by highlighting these inequities and hidden costs and suffering in breast cancer, they can be better recognised and addressed by healthcare professionals and policymakers in partnership with patients and the public around the world.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 15 April 2024
  3. Content Article
    Despite tremendous advances in breast cancer research and treatment over the past three decades—leading to a reduction in breast cancer mortality of over 40% in some high-income countries—gross inequities remain, with many groups being systematically left behind, ignored, and even forgotten. The work of the Lancet Breast Cancer Commission highlights crucial groups, such as those living with metastatic breast cancer, and identifies how the hidden costs of breast cancer and associated suffering are considerable, varied, and have far-reaching effects. The Commission offers a forward-looking and optimistic road map for how the health community can course correct to address these urgent challenges in breast cancer.
  4. News Article
    Black and Asian people who spot cancer symptoms are taking twice as long to be diagnosed as white people, a shocking new study shows. Research by Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) and Shine Cancer Support shows that people from minority ethnic backgrounds face an average of a year’s delay between first noticing symptoms and receiving a diagnosis of cancer. These groups report more negative experiences of cancer care than white people, limited knowledge about the diseases and lack of awareness of support services, which all contribute to later diagnostic rates. “In a year that’s revealed that the UK’s cancer survival lags behind comparable countries, I am saddened but unsurprised that people from minority ethnic groups face additional hurdles that delay their diagnosis.” said Ceinwen Giles, co-ceo of Shine Cancer Support. “We know that catching cancer earlier saves lives, yet with year long waits for some people, collaborative efforts between health leadership, advocacy groups and the pharmaceutical industry are required.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 9 April 2024
  5. Content Article
    Cancer Equals is a campaign launched by Bristol Myers Squibb, to understand and help address the many factors that lead to delays in cancer diagnosis and variations in cancer experiences between people from different backgrounds. Cancer Equals research shows that people from minority ethnic groups experience seven months longer delays between noticing cancer symptoms and diagnosis compared to white individuals. Many factors lead to these delays in diagnosis and differences in people’s experience of cancer – no one’s story is the same. Delays to diagnosis will and do impact prognosis, changing the course of peoples’ lives. Health disparities and inequalities are an ongoing and pressing issue, with the UK government, NHS and patient groups committed to increasing earlier diagnosis and improving outcomes for people living with cancer.
  6. Content Article
    Katie Hurst is a general surgery registrar based in the Thames Valley Deanery and chair of the Trainees’ Committee for the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. In this interview, we talk to Katie about the work she is doing with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh on raising awareness and protecting staff from ionising radiation.
  7. Content Article
    Ambulatory safety nets not only safeguard against diagnostic errors, they also encourage collaboration, support health care providers, and break down competitive barriers for the greater good of patient safety.
  8. Content Article
    Despite major gains in diagnosis and treatment, England continues to experience high disparities in cancer outcomes, with social and financial deprivation major drivers. This article from the thinktank Public Policy Projects looks at the underlying issues that lead to variation in both the likelihood of developing cancer, such as dietary differences, and in diagnosis, such as inaccessible screening programmes
  9. News Article
    At least 50,000 people will die from pancreatic cancer over the next five years unless the government gives more funding to improve how quickly the condition is diagnosed and treated, a major charity has warned. Pancreatic Cancer UK hit out at 50 years of “unacceptably slow progress” compared to other types of cancer as it warned that thousands of lives will be lost unless £35m of “urgent” investment is put towards improving survival rates of the disease. The charity predicted that pancreatic cancer – described by experts as the “quickest-killing cancer” – is expected to kill more people each year than breast cancer by 2027, which would make it the fourth-biggest cause of cancer deaths in the UK. The charity has also called for a commitment to treat everyone diagnosed with the cancer within 21 days, which it says would double the number of people getting treatment in time. Figures show that, compared to the 52.5% survival rate across the 20 most common cancers in the UK, those with pancreatic cancer have just a 7% survival rate. Around 10,500 people are diagnosed with the disease each year, with 9,558 deaths a year, according to Cancer Research UK, with more than half of people dying within three months of diagnosis. Read full story Source: The Independent, 12 March 2024
  10. News Article
    England’s NHS Ombudsman has warned that cancer patients could be put at risk because of over-stretched and exhausted health staff working in a system at breaking point and delays in diagnosis and treatment. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) revealed that between April 2020 and December 2023, his Office carried out 1,019 investigations related to cancer. Of those 185 were upheld or partly upheld. Issues with diagnosis and treatment were the most common cancer-related issues investigated by PHSO. These issues included treatment delays, misdiagnosis, failure to identify cancer, the mismanagement of conditions, and pain management. Complaints about cancer care also included concerns about poor communication, complaint handling, referrals, and end-of-life care. Most investigations were about lung cancer, followed by breast cancer and colorectal cancer. The Ombudsman recently closed an investigation around the death of Sandra Eastwood whose cancer was not diagnosed for almost a year after scans were not read correctly. The delay meant she missed out on the chance of treatment which has a 95% survival rate. In 2021, PHSO published a report about recurrent failings in the way X-rays and scans are reported on and followed up across the NHS service. Mr Behrens said, “What happened to Mrs Eastwood was unacceptable and her family’s grief will no doubt have been compounded by knowing that mistakes were made in her care. “Her case also shows, in the most tragic of ways, that while some progress has been made on my recommendations to improve imaging services, it is not enough and more must be done. “Government must act now to prioritise this issue and protect more patients from harm.” Read full story Source: Parliamentary Health and Health Service Ombudsman, 9 March 2024
  11. News Article
    Cancer patients in the UK wait up to seven weeks longer to begin radiotherapy or chemotherapy than people in comparable countries, research has revealed. The stark findings are yet more damning evidence of the extent to which the UK lags behind other nations, as experts warn that people’s chances of survival are being affected by long waits for treatment. In the first research of its kind, experts at University College London analysed data from more than 780,000 cancer patients diagnosed between 2012 and 2017 in four comparable countries: Australia, Canada, Norway and the UK. Eight cancer types were included: oesophageal, stomach, colon, rectal, liver, pancreatic, lung and ovarian cancer. The two studies, published in the Lancet Oncology, were the first to examine treatment differences for eight cancer types in countries across three continents. UK patients experienced the longest waits for treatment, the research found. The average time to start chemotherapy was 48 days in England, 57 in Northern Ireland, 58 in Wales and 65 in Scotland. The shortest time was 39 days in Norway. In radiotherapy, the UK fared even worse. It took 53 days on average for treatment to begin in Northern Ireland, 63 in England, 79 in Scotland and 81 in Wales. Cancer Research UK, which part-funded the two studies, said delays to begin treatment were partly a result of the UK government’s lack of long-term planning on cancer in recent years. Countries with robust cancer strategies backed by funding had seen better improvements in survival rates, it said. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 27 February 2024
  12. Content Article
    Early-onset colon cancer (EOCC) is increasing in the US and disproportionately affects African-Americans. This analysis in the American Journal of Surgery aimed to compare EOCC survival among Black and White patients after matching relevant socio-demographic factors and stage. The authors found that Black patients with stage 3 EOCC are less likely to receive chemotherapy and have worse survival than White patients. They call for further research to identify potential factors driving this inequality.
  13. News Article
    A Mississippi prison denied medical treatment to an incarcerated woman with breast cancer, allowing her condition to go undiagnosed for years until it spread to other parts of her body and became terminal, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday. Susie Balfour, 62, alleges that Mississippi department of corrections (MDOC) medical officials were aware she might have cancer as early as May 2018, but did not conduct a biopsy until November 2021, one month before she was released from prison. It was not until January 2022, after she left an MDOC facility, that a University of Mississippi Medical Center doctor diagnosed her with stage four breast cancer, according to her federal complaint. Her lawsuit and medical records paint a picture of a prison healthcare system that deliberately delayed life-saving healthcare and for years repeatedly failed to conduct follow-up appointments that the MDOC’s contracted clinicians recommended. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 14 February 2024
  14. Content Article
    This study assessed for disparities in the presentation and management of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). The authors identified patients with MTC from the National Cancer Database and assessed differences in disease presentation and likelihood of guideline-concordant surgical management by sex and race/ethnicity. The results showed that male and non-White patients with MTC more frequently present with advanced disease, and Black patients are less likely to undergo guideline-concordant surgery.
  15. Content Article
    Prolonged length of stay (LOS) in emergency departments (ED) is a widespread problem in every hospital around the globe. Multiple factors cause it and can have a negative impact on the quality of care provided to the patients and the patient satisfaction rates. This project aimed to ensure that the average LOS of patients in a tertiary care cancer hospital stays below 3 hours. 
  16. News Article
    Cancer waiting times for 2023 in England were the worst on record, a BBC News analysis has revealed. Only 64.1% of patients started treatment within 62 days of cancer being suspected, meaning nearly 100,000 waited longer than they should for life-saving care. The waits have worsened every year for the past 11. Macmillan Cancer Support chief executive Gemma Peters called the figures "shocking". "This marks a new low and highlights the desperate situation for people living with cancer," she said. "Behind the figures are real lives being turned upside down, with thousands of people waiting far too long to find out if they have cancer and to begin their treatment, causing additional anxiety at what is already a very difficult time. "With over three million people in the UK living with cancer and an ageing population, this is only set to rise." The records go back to 2010, shortly after the cancer target was introduced. However, improvements have been made over the course of 2023 in how quickly patients are diagnosed with 72% told whether they have cancer or not within 28 days of an urgent referral. Read full story Source: BBC News, 8 February 2024
  17. News Article
    A test that can detect oesophageal cancer at an earlier stage than current methods should be made more widely available to prevent deaths, charities have said. The capsule sponge test, previously known as Cytosponge, involves a patient swallowing a dissolvable pill on a string. The pill then releases a sponge which collects cells from the oesophagus as it is retrieved. The test can detect abnormalities that form as part of a condition known as Barrett’s oesophagus, which makes a person more likely to develop oesophageal cancer. In the UK 9,300 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer a year, according to Cancer Research. The disease is difficult to detect because the symptoms for the cancer are not easily recognisable – and can be mistaken for indigestion – until a it is at an advanced stage. The capsule sponge test can detect the cancer at an earlier stage than the current methods, such as an endoscopy, used to diagnose oesophageal cancer. However, it is only currently available to higher-risk patients as an alternative to endoscopy as part of NHS pilot schemes. Cancer Research UK is working with the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) on a trial that will recruit 120,000 people to see if the capsule sponge test can reduce deaths from oesophageal cancer. If successful, the test could be rolled out more widely. Mimi McCord, the founder of Heartburn Cancer UK, who lost her husband, Mike, to oesophageal cancer in 2002, said: “Cancer of the oesophagus is a killer that can hide in plain sight. People don’t always realise it, but not all heartburn is harmless. While they keep on treating the symptoms, the underlying cause might be killing them.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 5 February 2024
  18. Content Article
    Children are more than twice as likely as adults to experience a medication error at home. In this interview for the journal Patient Safety, Dr Kathleen Walsh, paediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, discusses why that is the case and provides some tips to keep children—and adults—safe.
  19. News Article
    Deaths from cancer in the UK are set to rise by more than 50% in the next 26 years, stark new estimates suggest. Experts from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have found there were 454,954 new cases of cancer in the UK in 2022 and warned this is expected to rise to 624,582 by 2050. In 2022, 181,807 people died in Britain from cancer, but researchers warned this is expected to rise to 279,004 by 2050 – a 53% increase. The estimates suggest the rising rates of cancer will be driven by the UK’s growing and ageing population. However, researchers have also called for new policies to tackle levels of smoking, unhealthy diets, obesity and alcohol to help lower the expected surge in cases. The study examined cancer data from 115 different countries and estimated global cases would rise by 77 per cent, from 20 million in 2022 to 35 million in 2050. The organisations estimate that cancer deaths around the world will almost double from 9.7 million to 18.5 million in that time. Dr Panagiota Mitrou, director of research, policy and innovation at the World Cancer Research Fund, said the new estimates “show the increased burden that cancer will have in the years to come”. “UK governments’ failure to prioritise prevention and address key cancer risk factors like smoking, unhealthy diets, obesity, alcohol and physical inactivity has in part widened health inequalities,” she added. Read full story Source: The Independent, 1 February 2024
  20. News Article
    The European Commission is recommending measures EU countries should adopt to increase the uptake of two vaccines that prevent viral infections that can cause cancer, it said on Wednesday. The two vaccines are against the human papillomaviruses (HPV) that can cause many cancers, including cervical cancer, and against hepatitis B (HBV), which can lead to liver cancer. As part of Europe's Beating Cancer Plan, the European Union wants member countries to reach HPV vaccination of 90% for girls by 2030 and significantly increase the rate for boys. "Many Member States are well below 50% HPV vaccination coverage for girls with limited data available for boys and young adults, and there is a significant lack of data on HBV vaccination rate," the Commission statement said, adding it was as low as 1% in some countries. Read full story Source: Medscape UK, 31 January 2024
  21. News Article
    A prostate cancer patient went a year without a check-up because his referral to a consultant was lost. An inquest into the death of Thomas Ithell also heard that when the error was spotted it was not recorded because staff at Wrexham Maelor Hospital were too busy. The 77-year-old from Wrexham died in November 2022 after being admitted to hospital with shortness of breath. Assistant Coroner for North Wales East and Central, Kate Robertson, has submitted a Prevention of Future Deaths report to the health board in relation to Mr Ithell's case. As well as concerns over the lack of an investigation, she also questioned how the patient's follow-up appointment was missed. "There have been no assurances as to what, if any, changes and learning have been identified other than a tracking system for PSA monitoring," she wrote, referring to a type of blood test that helps diagnose prostate cancer. She was also concerned to learn that the hospital's Datix system - used for reporting incidents such as Mr Ithell's - had been described as "not user-friendly". Time constraints also sometimes prevented staff from completing these reports, thereby failing to trigger subsequent investigations by the board, the assistant coroner added. "I remain incredibly concerned that where matters are not raised in accordance with internal health board processes that assurances given to me in previous Prevention of Future Deaths reports cannot be supported," Ms Robertson added. Read full story Source: BBC News, 27 January 2024
  22. Content Article
    Thomas Ithell was aged 77 at the time of his death on 20 November 2022. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2017 and biopsies revealed bilateral adenocarcinoma of the prostate. He underwent radiotherapy in 2018 and hormone deprivation treatment. From April 2021 onwards his PSA levels increased periodically. In October 2021 his level was 5.5ng/ml having been 1.5ng/m lin April 2021 and 2.7ng/m in July 2021 indicating a recurrence of the cancer and likely incurable. Thomas Ithell was reluctant to undergo further hormone treatment as he found tolerating the side effects difficult. He did not then have his PSA levels tested after November 2021 and was not reviewed at all due to becoming missed to follow up. After he had been seen by the nurse practitioner on 5 November 2021, the letter written by the nurse practitioner for advice from the consultant did not reach the consultant. He was reviewed by a consultant on 22 October 2022 after an urgent suspected cancer GP referral following routine set of blood tests in September 2022, some 10 months later. Mr Ithell died in hospital on 20 November 2022 having been admitted with shortness of breath, the malignancy having caused his death.
  23. Content Article
    The first UK geriatric oncology service at a tertiary cancer centre was established at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. Its purpose is to conduct comprehensive geriatric assessments of patients with cancer on order to make referrals to multidisciplinary care. This descriptive study aimed to track its progress. It found that the service made a median of three referrals for each patient, most commonly to physiotherapy and occupational therapy. The frequency of referrals indicates that there is a high level of unmet need in older patients with cancer.
  24. Content Article
    Meeting cancer performance targets is a challenge for many trusts with waiting times for diagnosis and treatment growing since the pandemic. But this is a worrying time for patients as well, and they would welcome quicker turnaround of results and diagnosis. Cutting time out of this pathway would benefit everyone but are there ways to do this which do not compromise patient safety? An HSJ webinar, in association with SS&C Blue Prism, addressed this important question and tried to find ways trusts could reduce waiting times.
  25. Content Article
    This constructive commentary reflects on two recent related publications, the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) report, Variations in the delivery of palliative care services to adults, and an article from Sarcoma UK, Family insights from Dermot’s experience of sarcoma care. Drawing from these publications, Richard, brother-in-law of Dermot, gives a family perspective, calling for a more open discussion around how we can improve palliative care and sarcoma services, and why we must listen and act upon family and patient experience and insight.
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