This World Cancer Day we spoke to Breast Clinical Nurse Specialists Nicola Day, Anita Sandi and Amanda Betts to talk about the great work they are doing in the one-stop breast clinic at Whipps Cross Hospital.
Patients are usually referred to the clinic from their GP because of a breast concern; this could be because of a lump, discomfort or other symptoms. The clinic ensures that almost every patient is seen through a ‘triple assessment’. Usually, the one-stop breast clinic will have a morning or afternoon session where all patients can have their clinical examination and, if appropriate, diagnostic tests. We aim to give the provisional results by the end of the same day, this will minimise the amount of repeated visits required to the hospital. We also want to try to minimise any stress or anxiety that the patients may be feeling.
On most occasions, patients spend between 3 and 4 hours at the breast clinic having the appropriate tests. These can include an examination, an ultrasound, a mammogram, a fine needle aspiration or a core biopsy. These can all be done on the same day meaning there is no need for the patient to attend hospital on different days for each test.
It is highly likely that patients will be able to get their results on the same day of visiting the clinic which can eliminate prolonged stress and anxiety. 93.3% of patients would recommend the clinic according to the most recent Friends and Family Test results.
One patient who would be extremely likely to recommend the service commented: “The quickness of the referral from the GP to the actual appointment was very good. Having an ultrasound and mammogram as well as a consultation straight away was also very good and quick. Well done, such a relief.”
Nicola Day, Clinical Nurse Specialist said “Patients love the continuity of care that we can provide by all being under one roof and by being separate to the general outpatients department. We have a dedicated breast care team and this ensures better communication and provides more dignity to our patients. We pride ourselves on the fact that we can give patients psychological support as well as medical treatment. We get to know our patients really well and they enjoy the friendly aspect involved in seeing the same staff in the one-stop clinic.”
The clinic also organises a monthly support group. This is open to all patients who are going through treatment for breast cancer at any stage of their illness. Each month is based on a different theme, this can be anything from a discussion about lingerie to an organised walk and it provides the opportunity for the group to chat and bond over their experiences as well as learn from each other.
Nicola mentioned that “The group can give hope to people at the beginning of their treatment as they can see that some of the physical effects such as hair loss won’t last forever. This is one reason why it’s great that we see people at all stages of their treatment.”
The next support group is on Thursday 13 February from 6-8pm in the Boardroom at Whipps Cross Hospital.
Look Good Feel Better are a charity who organise free confidence boosting workshops for women, men and young adults undergoing treatment for any type of cancer. Each group session is led by trained volunteers and is a chance to meet others in a similar situation, as well as learning useful skills and techniques to manage the side-effects of cancer treatment. There are lots of printed materials and online tutorials for those who are unable to attend their sessions or who would like some extra advice. These workshops are held every other month at Whipps Cross Hospital and can be booked through the MacMillan Centre.
If you have any concerns regarding your breasts, please do visit your GP. A guide on the signs and symptoms to look out for, as well as how to check your breasts can be found on the Breast Cancer Now website.