And today Breast Cancer Now calling for the needs of “often forgotten” patients with incurable cancer to be recognized.
That NHS in Scotland has suspended several services, including routine mammograms, amid fears they could put patients at greater risk of contracting Covid-19.
Breast Cancer Now have heard evidence of an impact on breast cancer services.
One breast cancer patient, Karen Hilton, 48, from Dalkeith, Midlothian, was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in September 2018 after seeing a lump in her collarbone.
Karen was first diagnosed with a triple negative primary breast cancer with the wrong BRCA1 gene in May 2016, followed by another primary breast cancer in August 2017.
He and his 10-year-old partner, Alistair, will get married in April, but must cancel their marriage because it is locked.
Karen was worried about the lack of clinical trials available during the coronavirus outbreak.
He said: “Treatment initially worked very effectively but cancer seemed to work and come back again.
“Unfortunately, I only have so many choices left and those options include trials for new treatments.
“They could be the thing that kept me alive but at the moment because of COVID-19 I didn’t get access and I don’t know how long it will take for clinical trials to return to the table.”
And poignantly, he added: “I want to see my child grow up and it’s sad to think that it is impossible.”
He I have been on medication for several weeks now but he added: “The chemotherapy I am undergoing can disrupt my blood count and if it drops too low, I may have to stop. Everything depends on the wire.
“At one time in my life that I wanted to go out and work through my bucket list and all my travel plans, I couldn’t. I can’t even drink coffee with a friend.
“This is very difficult for me and my family. Even though this is a scary situation that I am living with, I also live with the hope that I will get the treatment I need. “
A new survey of people affected by breast cancer in the UK found a large number of secondary breast cancer patients see their chemotherapy or targeted therapies change or stop temporarily to improve their immune system, leading to weeks or potentially months without treatment. which has been helping to keep their illness stable.
Although many patient said their care and treatments were not affected, others saw scan monitoring delayed for up to three months, making them unsure whether their current treatment worked or whether their cancer might develop.
Breast Cancer Now emphasized that, for many people, short treatment changes or delays may not lead to significant long-term impacts, and praised the efforts of NHS doctors, researchers and experts around the world to develop rapid protocols to guide treatment decisions during a pandemic.
But the charity said that the level of distress, anxiety and fear he had heard on his helpline was “unmatched” in recent years and urged that the needs of patients with advanced cancer be recognized and addressed when plans to restore NHS services were developed. to ensure thousands of people don’t lose valuable time with their loved ones.
The charity called on all four Governments and the UK NHS agency to establish a clear plan as part of a cancer pursuit strategy to ensure that all people living with secondary breast cancer can safely receive the care and care they need as soon as possible without freezing. hub or site.
Secondary breast cancer can be controlled for a while but cannot be cured and patients need treatment for the rest of their lives.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive Officer at Breast Cancer Now said: “It is very alarming to hear the extraordinary emotional impact of this outbreak on so many people living with secondary breast cancer.
“Many women experience or fear major changes in their care, and the levels of anxiety, distress and fear that we have heard on our Help Line are unmatched in recent years.
“Without a clear plan to restore care, service and trials as soon as it’s safe and feasible, thousands of people can lose valuable extra time with their loved ones, which will be very heartbreaking.”
Anyone who is worried about their breast cancer treatment can contact the free breast cancer assistance channel at 0808 800 6000.
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