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Found 77 results
  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. Content Article
    In this episode, we hear from Sue Allison who blew the whistle on a Senior Radiologist within her department who repeatedly failed to diagnose women who had breast cancer at NHS Morecambe Bay Trust. She explains her battle to overturn her NDA at employment tribunal and the ‘insidious bullying’ that followed after blowing the whistle on concerns about patient safety. She is joined by Samantha Prosser an experienced employment law litigator from BDBF LLP who has specialist experience in advising private and NHS consultants from leading hospitals on private and NHS whistleblowing and discrimination claims.
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. News Article
    Women are being unnecessarily alarmed about their risk of breast cancer by consumer genetic test results that do not take family history into account, researchers have said. Women who discover outside a clinical setting that they carry a disease-causing variant of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes may be told that their risk of breast cancer is 60-80%. But analysis of UK Biobank data suggests the risk could be less than 20% for those who do not have a close relative with the condition. Dr Leigh Jackson, of the University of Exeter’s medical school, who is the lead author of the analysis published in the journal eClinical Medicine, said that in extreme cases this could result in women unnecessarily undergoing surgery. “Being told you are at high genetic risk of disease can really influence levels of fear of a particular condition and the resulting action you may take,” he said. “Up to 80% risk of developing breast cancer is very different from 20%.” Until recently, women who received BRCA results did so because they had attended clinic due to symptoms or a family history of disease. However, an increasing number are now learning of their genetic risk after paying for home DNA testing kits or taking part in genetic research, without ever having any personal link with breast cancer. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 15 September 2023
  7. Content Article
    Clinical trial documents are complex and may have inconsistencies, leading to potential site implementation errors and may compromise participant safety. This study characterises the frequency and type of administrative and potential patient safety interventions (PPSIs) made during the review of oncology trial documents for clinical trial implementation by centralized clinical content specialists. The study demonstrates a gap in patient safety when assessing trial documents for clinical trial implementation. One solution to address this gap is the utilisation of a centralised team of clinical specialists to preemptively review trial documents, thereby enhancing patient safety during clinical trial conduct.
  8. News Article
    NHS leaders are urging people to attend vital lung cancer check-ups as figures reveal almost two-thirds of those invited are not coming forward. The NHS targeted lung health check service offered in some parts of England aims to help diagnose cancer at an earlier stage when treatment may be more successful. Current and former smokers aged between 55 and 74 are invited to speak to a healthcare professional and, if they have a higher chance of developing lung cancer, are offered a scan of their lungs. Doctors are keen to reach those who may not have sought help for symptoms during the pandemic and could be living with undiagnosed lung cancer. People diagnosed at the earliest stage are nearly 20 times more likely to survive for five years than those whose cancer is caught late, according to the NHS. The NHS has already diagnosed 600 people with the disease in travelling trucks, which visit convenient community sites across the UK, such as supermarkets and sports centres, aiming to make it easier for people to access check-ups. But figures show only a third (35%) of patients go to their lung health check when invited by the NHS. “These lung checks can save lives,” said Dame Cally Palmer, the NHS cancer director. “By going out into communities we find more people who may not have otherwise realised they have lung cancer, with hundreds already diagnosed and hundreds of thousands due to be invited." Read full story Source: The Guardian, 19 April 2022
  9. News Article
    Ongoing research underway at The University of Queensland in Australia is focusing on stopping children undergoing chemotherapy from feeling pain and other debilitating side effects. Dr Hana Starobova from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience has been awarded a Fellowship Grant from the Children’s Hospital Foundation to continue her research to relieve children from the side effects of cancer treatments. “Although children have a higher survival rate than adults following cancer treatments, they can still be suffering side-effects well into their adulthood,” Dr Starobova said. “A five-year-old cancer patient could be suffering severe pain, gastrointestinal problems or difficulty walking 20 years on from treatment. “There has been a lack of studies on children, which is an issue because they are not just small adults — they suffer from different cancers, their immune systems work differently and they have a faster metabolism, all of which affect how treatments work. “Our aim is to treat children before the damage happens so that the side-effects are dramatically reduced or don’t occur in the first place.” Dr Starobova is currently analysing how specific drugs could prevent a cascade of inflammation caused by chemotherapy drugs, which lead to tingling and numbness in hands and feet, and muscle pain and weakness that makes everyday tasks, like walking and doing up buttons, a challenge. She is focusing on Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers in children, with over 700 children diagnosed in Australia each year. “We are studying the most commonly used chemotherapy treatment for children, which is a mix of drugs that are very toxic, but have to be used to treat cancer fast and stop it becoming resistant to the drugs,” Dr Starobova said. “It’s a fine balance — too little chemotherapy and cancer won’t be killed but sometimes the side effects are so bad, patients have to stop the therapy. “I hope that by having a treatment to reduce side-effects, it will be one less thing for these kids and their families to worry about.” Read full story Source: The Print, 15 August 2022
  10. News Article
    Victims of breast surgeon Ian Paterson said independent inquiry improvements are not being implemented fast enough. Paterson was jailed in 2017 after he was found to have carried out needless operations on patients across Birmingham and Solihull. The 2020 report's recommendations include the recall of his 11,000 patients to assess their treatment. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it is working to stop future patients facing similar harm. On Sunday, ITV screened a documentary 'Bodies of Evidence: The Butcher Surgeon' which featured victim and campaigner Debbie Douglas, who was instrumental in getting the inquiry established. She said the government needs "to put pace behind" the work to implement the 15 recommendations it made. "It is important those recommendations are embedded in legislation, it is important there is governance over those recommendations to stop another Paterson, it is important that there is a proper consent procedure," she said. The recommendations called for consultants to write directly to patients to explain proposed surgical treatment as standard practice, a public register to detail which types of operations surgeons are able to perform and for patients to be given time to reflect on their diagnosis and treatment options before they are asked to consent to surgery. Read full story Source: BBC News, 14 June 2022
  11. News Article
    When Jenny* had a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer, she believed the major surgery to remove her breast, although traumatic, had saved her life. She described feeling “rage” when at a follow-up appointment three years later, she said to her surgeon, “I would probably be dead by now” if she had not received the surgery, to which he replied: “Probably not.” It was only then, after she had already undergone invasive and life-changing treatment, that Jenny learned about “overdiagnosis”. While breast cancer screening programs are essential and save lives, sometimes they also detect lumps that may never go on to cause harm in a woman’s lifetime, leading to overtreatment, and psychological and financial suffering. Jenny is 1 of 12 women from the UK, US, Canada and Australia whose stories were published in the medical journal BMJ Open. It is the first study to interview breast cancer patients who believe they may have received unnecessary and harmful treatment, highlighting the effect this has had on their lives. “The usual story of breast cancer screening is ‘screening saves lives’,” an author of the study and a professor of public health at the University of Sydney in Australia, Alexandra Barratt, said. “This study reports the other side of the story – how breast cancer screening can cause harm through overdiagnosis and overtreatment.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 8 June 2022
  12. News Article
    Nearly 8,900 more people have died of cancer than expected in Britain since the start of the pandemic, amid calls for the Government to appoint a minister to deal with the growing crisis. In an essay in The Lancet Oncology, campaigners and medics said the upward trend of cancer deaths is likely to continue, with 3,327 in the last six months alone. They urged the Government to tackle the crisis with the same focus and urgency given to the Covid vaccine rollout, and called for a cancer minister to get on top of the backlog. NHS data from November showed that in the last 12 months, 69,000 patients in the UK have waited longer than the recommended 62-day wait from suspected cancer referral to start of treatment. Professor Gordon Wishart, a former cancer surgeon and chief medical officer of Check4Cancer, said: “The Covid-induced cancer backlog is one of the deadliest backlogs and has served to widen the cracks in our cancer services". “Now we face a deadly cancer timebomb of treatment delays that get worse every month because we don’t have a sufficiently ambitious plan from policymakers. I urge the Government to work with us.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 15 December 2022
  13. News Article
    NHS leaders fear patients will come to harm as cancer services are “hit hard” by upcoming nurses’ strikes. The NHS’s four chief nurses wrote to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) general secretary Pat Cullen warning patients’ lives are at risk due to life-saving services not being protected when nurses walk out on Thursday. And a separate letter from Dame Cally Palmer, the national cancer director for NHS England, urged Ms Cullen to protect urgent cancer operations from strike action “to ensure a consistent and compassionate approach for patients across the country”. The RCN has since agreed that staff will cover emergency cancer and mental health crisis services on strike days but has maintained only night-level staffing for inpatient services. But trust executives told The Independent that they were concerned they won’t be able to fill any gaps with agency staff due to RCN rules, which will worsen existing shortages. One senior NHS source claimed cancer services weren’t being prioritised by unions despite national agreements to protect chemotherapy treatments. They said: “I fear that someone is going to get hurt as the system is so pressured and fragile right now, whether strike-related or not, public sympathy will shift considerably if this were to happen.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 14 December 2022
  14. News Article
    A blood test which can detect 50 cancers before symptoms start to show could be offered to a million people in a pilot programme from next summer, according to the head of the NHS. Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said the Galleri test has the potential to “transform cancer care forever”, according to reports. The liquid biopsy detects tiny fragments of tumour DNA in the bloodstream and alerts doctors as to whether a cancer signal has been detected and predicts where in the body that signal may have originated. If early results are successful, a pilot screening programme involving one million patients over two years is scheduled to begin next summer. The test is expected to find 5,000 potential cases of the disease every year. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 15 June 2023
  15. News Article
    Most women with early breast cancer now beat the disease thanks to huge improvements in treatments in recent years, a BMJ analysis has found. Their risk of dying within five years of diagnosis is estimated to be around 5% - down from 14% in the 1990s. The BMJ analysis tracked more than half a million women with early, invasive breast cancer - mostly stage one and two - diagnosed in the 1990s, 2000s and between 2010 and 2015. It found the prognosis for nearly all women "has improved substantially since the 1990s", with most becoming long-term cancer survivors. And based on those trends, the researchers behind the Oxford University-led study say women diagnosed today also have a much lower risk. "That's good news - and reassuring for clinicians and patients," oncologist and lead researcher Prof Carolyn Taylor says. Cancer Research UK says this offers "reassurance" to many women but warns more highly-trained staff are needed to meet rising demand. Read full story Source: BMJ, 14 June 2023
  16. News Article
    NHS England’s approach to recovering cancer services has been described as ‘pathetic and dishonest’ by the deputy chief executive of a major trust. Andy Welch, deputy chief executive and medical director of Newcastle Hospitals Foundation Trust, has publicly criticised comments made in November by NHSE’s national cancer director Dame Cally Palmer, who said “we have our foot on the gas” towards reaching cancer waiting time targets. Mr Welch is an outspoken figure who has also slammed NHSE for “destroying” the morale of midwives through its “failed ‘continuity of care’ concept”, and described the potential “toppling” of the government as “brilliant” within the last three weeks alone. The Newcastle medic is the chair of the Northern Cancer Alliance. His criticism of Dame Cally comes as performance against the flagship cancer target remains largely unchanged since last year. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 18 May 2023
  17. News Article
    A world-renowned cancer centre hit by whistleblowing concerns over alleged bullying has been downgraded by the health watchdog. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) told The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester it "requires improvement" in safety and leadership. A former trust nurse told the BBC leaders had intimidated staff to stop them voicing concerns to inspectors. Rebecca Wight worked at The Christie - Europe's largest cancer centre - from 2014 but quit her role as an advanced nurse practitioner in December, claiming her whistleblowing attempts had been ignored. She told BBC Newsnight the trust had attempted to manipulate the inspection by intimidating those who wished to paint an honest picture. Roger Kline, an NHS workforce and culture expert from Middlesex University Business School, told BBC Newsnight there was a culture at The Christie which was "unwelcoming of people raising concerns". He said: "The trust response is more likely... to see the person raising the concerns as the problem rather than the issues they have raised," adding this was "not good for patient care". Read full story Source: BBC News, 12 May 2023
  18. News Article
    The deaths of 650 patients treated by a breast cancer surgeon who was convicted of maiming hundreds are being investigated, it has been reported. Once one of the country’s leading doctors, Ian Paterson carried out thousands of operations before he was jailed for uneccesarily performing hundreds of life-changing surgeries. The Sunday Times has now revealed medical experts are sifting through the records of women who were cared for by the disgraced surgeon over more than twenty years. He is currently serving a 20-year jail term, having been found guilty of 17 counts of wounding with intent. Many of the procedures, which took place between 1997 and 2011, had “no medically justifiable reason”, a court heard. According to The Sunday Times, 27 inquests have been opened in cases where coroners “believe there is evidence to have reason to suspect that some of those deaths may be unnatural”. Read full story Source: The Independent, 16 April 2023
  19. Content Article
    Reducing socioeconomic inequalities in cancer is a priority for the public health agenda. In this study, cancer-specific mortality data by socioeconomic status, as measured by educational level, were collected and harmonised across 18 countries in Europe and for multiple points in time over the period 1990–2015. The study found that everywhere in Europe, lower-educated individuals have higher mortality rates for nearly all cancer-types relative to their more highly educated counterparts, particularly for tobacco/infection-related cancers. However, the magnitude of inequalities varies greatly by country and over time, predominantly due to differences in cancer mortality among lower-educated groups, as for many cancer-types higher-educated have more similar (and lower) rates, irrespective of the country. Inequalities were generally greater in Baltic/Central/East-Europe and smaller in South-Europe, although among women large and rising inequalities were found in North-Europe. These results call for a systematic measurement, monitoring and action upon the remarkable socioeconomic inequalities in cancer existing in Europe.
  20. News Article
    A consultant oncologist who ignored a hospital instruction and attended patients’ cancer surgery on two days when he knew he was still testing positive for Covid-19 has been suspended from the UK medical register for three months. Andrew Gaya admitted knowingly breaking the rules but told the medical practitioners tribunal he had feared that the patients’ treatments would be postponed if he could not attend the private London Gamma Knife Centre, part of HCA Healthcare UK. The two incidents occurred in the early weeks of the pandemic, at a time of high covid death rates. “I did not take the decision to attend the centre on 3 April 2020 lightly and was aware it was not in accordance with the instructions I had been given,” Gaya told the tribunal. “At the time I thought that I wasn’t going to do any harm and that I was acting in the best interests of the patient as the case was urgent. “I know I should have telephoned [the relevant manager] and asked if she would allow me to undertake the treatment, but I was afraid her answer would be ‘no’ and that the patient’s treatment would be cancelled,” he told the tribunal in a witness statement. Both patients have since died, but after the tribunal concluded Gaya told the Daily Telegraph, “One lived for 6 months with good quality of life.” Gaya, who was present as part of a multidisciplinary team, wore protective gear and observed social distancing. There is no evidence that he had infected anyone. Read full story Source: BMJ, 1 November 2022
  21. News Article
    A ‘leading’ cancer service has reported a series of safety incidents which contributed to patients being severely harmed or dying, HSJ has reported. An internal report at Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust suggests the incidents within the pancreatic cancer specialty were partly linked to patient pathways being ill-defined following the merger of its two major hospitals. The report lists seven incidents involving severe harm or death, and five involving moderate harm. It is not clear how many of the patients died. The trust was formed in 2019 through the merger of the Royal Liverpool and Aintree acute sites, with the consolidation of clinical services an integral part of the plans. However, there were no formal plans to change the configuration of pancreatic cancer services, which already operated under a “hub and spoke” model. In one finding relevant to all 12 incidents, the report said: “Patient ownership and clinician accountability (local vs specialist) have not been defined following the merger of the legacy trusts and subsequent service reconfigurations. “This has contributed to system failures in the provision of timely quality care, particularly in patients with time-critical clinical uncertainty.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 5 October 2022
  22. Content Article
    Exposure to ionising radiation during image guided procedures has been associated with a higher incidence of breast cancer in female healthcare workers. Lead or lead equivalent gowns are used to reduce radiation exposure during image guided procedures, but studies have shown that current gowns provide inadequate protection to breast tissue as they leave the upper outer quadrant and axilla exposed. Isobel Pilkington and colleagues discuss the risk and the steps that must be taken to ensure full protection of breast tissue in this BMJ Editorial.
  23. Content Article
    Patient safety in oncology should remain a standard indicator of quality of care and a critical objective on the EU health policy agenda as all European citizens deserve the same level of safeguarding and protection at all stages of their healthcare. Patient safety is also a critical indicator of life overall, as any irreversible or reversible patient safety issue potentially affects the quality of life. This report from the European Network for Safer Healthcare calls for 10 actions for European policy makers and national health authorities.
  24. News Article
    Experts have warned that Europe faces a “cancer epidemic” unless urgent action is taken to boost treatment and research, after an estimated 1m diagnoses were missed during the pandemic. The impact of Covid-19 and the focus on it has exposed “weaknesses” in cancer health systems and in the cancer research landscape across the continent, which, if not addressed as a matter of urgency, will set back cancer outcomes by almost a decade, leading healthcare and scientific experts say. A report, European Groundshot – Addressing Europe’s Cancer Research Challenges: a Lancet Oncology Commission, brought together a wide range of patient, scientific, and healthcare experts with detailed knowledge of cancer across Europe. One unintended consequence of the pandemic was the adverse effects that the rapid repurposing of health services and national lockdowns, and their continuing legacy, have had on cancer services, on cancer research, and on patients with cancer, the experts said. “To emphasise the scale of this problem, we estimate that about 1m cancer diagnoses might have been missed across Europe during the Covid-19 pandemic,” they wrote in The Lancet Oncology. “There is emerging evidence that a higher proportion of patients are diagnosed with later cancer stages compared with pre-pandemic rates as a result of substantial delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment. This cancer stage shift will continue to stress European cancer systems for years to come. “These issues will ultimately compromise survival and contribute to inferior quality of life for many European patients with cancer.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 15 November 2022
  25. News Article
    Cases of mouth cancer in the UK have increased by more than one-third in the last decade to hit a record high, according to a new report. The number of cases has more than doubled within the last generation and previous common causes like smoking and drinking are being added to by other lifestyle factors. According to the Oral Health Foundation, 8,864 people in the UK were diagnosed with the disease last year – up 36% on a decade ago, with 3,034 people losing their life to it within the year. This is an increase in deaths of 40% in the last 10 years, and a 20% rise in the last five. Dr Nigel Carter, the chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, said: “While most cancers are on the decrease, cases of mouth cancer continue to rise at an alarming rate". Survival rates for mouth cancer have barely improved in the last 20 years, partly because so many cases are diagnosed too late. Just over half of all mouth cancers are diagnosed at stage four – where the cancer is at its most advanced. The findings from the Oral Health Foundation have been released to coincide with November’s Mouth Cancer Action Month. The goal of the Oral Health Foundation is to improve people’s lives by reducing the harm caused by oral diseases – many of which are entirely preventable. Read full story Source: The Independent, 9 November 2022
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