New device will protect prostate cancer patients during radiation treatment

An innovation that can reduce the side-effects of radiotherapy for prostate cancer patients by over 70 per cent will be rolled out across the NHS, as part of the Long Term Plan to put cutting-edge treatments at the heart of people’s care.

Thanks to a deal struck by the NHS with manufacturer Boston Scientific, hospitals in England will now be encouraged to use its hydrogel device for all patients who could benefit, making radiotherapy a safer and less painful treatment option for many men.

The hydrogel acts as a spacer, reducing the amount of radiation that can pass through the prostate and damage the rectum during treatment, by temporarily positioning it away from the high dose radiation used in treatment.

The gel, made mostly of water, is injected before treatment starts and then remains in place during radiation therapy, before being naturally absorbed by the body after about 6 months.

In studies, its use has been shown to relatively reduce life-changing side effects, such as rectal pain, bleeding and diarrhoea, by over 70%, meaning significant improvements in quality of life for those battling prostate cancer.

Full story at NHS England

New drive to improve care and save lives

Professor Sir Mike Richards has launched a major overhaul of cancer screening as part the NHS Long Term Plan’s renewed drive to improve care and save lives | via NHS England

Early detection of cancer, while the condition is easier to treat, is central to the plan which aims to prevent tens of thousands more deaths each year. Sir Mike Richards, who was the NHS’ first cancer director and is the former CQC chief inspector of hospitals, is leading an independent review of national screening programmes.

He will recommend how they should be upgraded to ensure they remain world leading and that patients benefit from new technologies and treatments.

As part of his work, Sir Mike wants to hear views and ideas from staff, patients and other groups to inform recommendations for the future of cancer screening.

Sir Mike is seeking feedback on a number of areas including:

  • Future management, delivery and oversight of screening programmes
  • How to ensure maximum screening uptake across the country and particularly in vulnerable and minority groups
  • Opportunities for the use of AI and other technology to help with cancer screening
  • Feedback on current and future IT and equipment
  • Having the right number of staff with the right training to deliver the programmes
  • Views on what screening should look like in ten years’ time

Full story at NHS England

Personalised cancer care

This report considers how a better collection and use of data can significantly improve cancer outcomes | Reform

This report finds that a more effective use of data could bring about much-needed improvements in cancer care. The new model of cancer care proposed in this paper looks at how data could be examined and used at every stage of the treatment journey, from prevention and diagnosis through to treatment and recovery. Making better use of data will not only improve cancer outcomes but will also enable the NHS to manage the disease far more effectively, now, and in the future.

The cancer dashboard, currently run by Public Health England, is an online interface for all cancer related information. Going forward, the authors recommend the dashboard  be extended to become the single point of access for cancer outcomes data in England.

Alongside an improved cancer dashboard, the report also recommends data must be shared effectively and promptly between different stakeholders to ensure patients have the best possible care experience. This is especially important in cancer care as a patient normally interacts with many different parts of the health service.

Full report: A data-driven approach to personalised cancer care | Reform

New two-year progress report on delivering the cancer strategy 2015-2020

NHS England’s National Cancer Programme Progress Report (2016-17) shows that the NHS is on track to transform cancer services by 2020/21 | NHS England

NHS England’s two-year progress report shows significant progress has been made towards delivering world-class cancer services in England. Improvements include a £130m investment (over 2016/18) in new and upgraded radiotherapy equipment and £200m over two years to accelerate rapid diagnosis and enhance patients’ quality of life.

The report describes progress across the field including:

  • Modernisation of radiotherapy equipment throughout the country.
  • New models of care introduced to ensure cancer is diagnosed earlier and improve survival.
  • Establishment of Cancer Alliances across the country to bring together clinical leaders, healthcare workers, patients and charities for better coordination of care.

Full document: Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes: A Strategy for England 2015-2020

Publishing national chemotherapy data has helped NHS hospitals make changes that should improve treatment

It’s often research into new drugs that makes headlines. But examining routine data can also help doctors continually improve how they use treatments already available | CRUK Blog

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To do that the NHS needs to look at how these treatments are being used and how different patients fare following treatment. Last year, we worked with Public Health England to do exactly that.

Our world-first study of patients treated for breast and lung cancer in 2014 gave us a national picture of what happened to patients following treatment with chemotherapy, ‘targeted’ drugs and immunotherapy.

The study was made possible by routine data collected by Public Health England as part of the treatment of all patients across the English NHS. And for the first time each English NHS hospital trust was able to see how well their breast and lung cancer patients fared in the first 30 days after receiving these treatments compared with other trusts.

This measure, called ‘30-day mortality’, is really useful. If a patient dies in that short window of time, it’s unlikely they benefitted from the treatment and they might still have experienced its side effects, even if it didn’t directly lead to their death.

For those patients, other types of treatment and support might have led to a better outcome. But the only way to know this is by giving treatment teams data to help them spot where they could make improvements.

Read the full post here

The Potential Role of an Acute Oncology Service

Bruce, C.M. et al. Clinical Oncology | Published online: 17 April 2017

Highlights:

  • There is ample scope to work with primary care to reduce cancer patient admissions.
  • Only one quarter of cancer patients had an inpatient oncologist review.
  • Median length of stay was 6 days; the literature suggests an AOS could reduce this.
  • A pilot suggests a reduction in number of bed days can be achieved with an AOS.
  • An AOS is likely to have a positive impact at an individual and national level.

Read the full abstract here

Developing a model for embedded palliative care in a cancer clinic

DeSanto-Madeya, S. et al. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care | Published Online: 03 March 2017.

Objectives: Describe the development and key features of a model for embedded palliative care (PC) for patients with advanced kidney cancer or melanoma seen in a cancer clinic.

Conclusions: The initial phase demonstrated acceptability and feasibility of a model for embedded PC for patients and the oncology team. Establishment of specific eligibility criteria and screening to identify eligible patients in the model phase led to an increased uptake of PC for patients with advanced kidney cancer and melanoma in a cancer clinic.

Read the full article here