The community based follow-up programme will involve the two essential aspects of post cancer survivorship care; ‘risk profiling’ patients through community based teams who monitor for recurrence, and reducing the negative impact on broader issues such as quality of life.
The current guidance on how to manage post cancer care lacks any mention of survivorship, despite it having some of the highest medical requirements.
Dr Sanchia Goonewardene, who researches the novel project, explained, “Patients require a personalised care plan after treatment. It’s not enough to simply provide regular monitoring; there is a need for ongoing support for any other problems they might experience.
“Every patient is different, so the best way to approach survivorship care is to give access to a programme that will empower them, with access to health professionals when they need it, and the information to help them cope with the medical and indeed the non-medical requirements on a day to day basis.
“A truly holistic care plan needs to give the patient an understanding of how things such as diet, exercise and lifestyle can aid the long term recovery and reduce any side effects that they are having in any aspect of their life.”
Patients who meet the criteria (two years post radical prostatectomy with an unrecordable Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test, or three years post radiotherapy or brachytherapy with a stable PSA) have been offered the chance to enter the Worcestershire Prostate Cancer Survivorship Programme, upon which their information is entered into a database. There are currently over 600 participants.
This database allows future PSA test results to be monitored and will automatically generate an alert when there is cause for concern. When such an alert is generated, a Clinical Nurse Specialist will contact the responsible consultant and the patient will be reviewed in clinic, if required.
Professor Raj Persad, Urologist at North Bristol NHS Trust added, “With breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment of cancer, we have an increasing number of cancer survivors. It’s essential that we provide quality investment in post treatment care as not only will the patient benefit significantly from the more holistic pathway, but the scheme will bring significant savings to the NHS as patients are better able to avoid and reduce the impact of harmful side effects on their physical and mental health.”
Over two million people in England have been diagnosed with cancer and the Department of Health has pledged £750million on improvements to the diagnosis and prevention of the disease. However, investment in post care despite there being a significant amount of research into survivorship.
On the recommendation of the team, the European Association of Urology have now acknowledged survivorship and adopted it as a bespoke section for prostate cancer for their congress. The vast impact of survivorship reaches beyond prostate cancer and would be beneficial to all tumour sites, so there remains a lot of work to be done.
The team developed the new survivorship model as a National Cancer Survivorship Initiative with Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
For further information or to arrange interviews with Dr Goonewardene, contact Luke Harrison, Press Officer, on +44 (0) 2476 574255/150483 or +44 (0) 7920531221