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

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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

Breast Cancer Care launches Alexa tool to help women spot key signs

Breast Cancer Care (BCC) has launched a virtual tool on Amazon’s Alexa which shares information on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer | via Digital Health

The tool can help guide women through a breast check and highlight the eight most common signs and symptoms of breast cancer to look out for.

Addie Mitchell, clinical nurse specialist at BCC, told Digital Health News that she hoped the digital tool would help give women more confidence to check for breast cancer. She said: “It gives them the confidence and assurance of being able to check in their own home. Checking for symptoms of breast cancer can cause a lot of anxiety as they don’t know what to look for, but the Alexa tool can help by listing the eight common ones.”

Mitchell added that the Alexa tool will also prompt users who may think they have one or more of the symptoms to get it checked out by their GP.

Full story at Digital Health

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

Social media boost for breast screening

More women attend for breast screening thanks to success of digital inclusion project | NHS Digital

An NHS project using social media to improve health by boosting digital inclusion has led to a 13 per cent increase in first time attendances for breast screening in Stoke-on-Trent over four years.

The local initiative saw information about screening posted on Facebook community groups, which empowered and enabled women to make appointments by reducing their anxiety around breast examinations. It also allowed them to communicate quickly and easily with health practitioners to ask questions about the screening process.

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Through this project, the North Midlands Breast Screening Service promoted their Facebook page on local community groups which their target group – women aged over 50 – regularly visited.

The screening team posted information such as patients explaining about how the screening process works and how it has affected them, and videos showing the rooms where it takes place. Posts were designed to encourage women to share them and so spread the message about the benefits and importance of screening.

The service’s Facebook page also answered questions in the group and by direct messaging, enabling women to book appointments more easily.

Full detail: More women attend for breast screening thanks to success of digital inclusion project | NHS Digital

See also: Social media could help raise breast screening take-up | OnMedica

Boosting confidence after breast cancer

A case study showing how cancer survivors in Salisbury feel more confident and less fatigued after enhanced support to live better after cancer | via NHS England

A new breast cancer stratified follow-up pathway, to increase the support given to breast cancer survivors, was rolled out at Salisbury Hospital in 2016.

The pathway includes a Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) followed by a two-hour Moving Forward group. Hosted by a Consultant and a nurse, it addresses immediate health and wellbeing concerns. Offered to everyone on the patient initiated follow up, the average rating on session usefulness is 4.45 out of five. The average self-reported confidence score is 4.65. However the support does not stop there, patients identified as requiring more support are referred to the Cancer wellbeing group.

This group meets once a week for seven weeks. Hosted by a Clinical Psychologist and Gym Instructor qualified in rehabilitation, each two hour session starts with wellbeing advice, such as finance and benefits, diet or mindfulness and ends with a suitable rehabilitation exercise session. Group members unable to participate in group exercise receive a personal rehabilitation exercise programme. Members can also access weekly swimming sessions in the hospital pool. The average satisfaction rating for the group is 4.5 out of five, while on average, members report fatigue on daily life scores reduced by one third.

Full detail at NHS England

C the Signs – How artificial intelligence (AI) is supporting referrals

NHS England | August 2018 | C the Signs – How artificial intelligence (AI) is supporting referrals

C the signs is an app that uses artificial intelligence mapped with the latest NICE guidelines and other evidence to provide GPs with the ability to check combinations of signs, symptoms and risk factors of cancer in an easy-to-use format. The app can be accessed on desktop computers or mobile phones, GPs can access the tool during the consultation to identify which referrals and investigations patients need. This has led to improved GP consultations and a smoother referral process as the app is designed to support  GPs to identify patients at risk of cancer earlier.board-1364652_1920.jpg

As a result of a  successful trial of the app in Sutton, the app will now be piloted in other areas, meaning that GPs and practice nurses in 95 practices will be given access to the tool and be able to use in consultations with their patients (Source: NHS England).

 

Of interest:

Royal College of General Physicians Artificial intelligence (AI) in health
In the media:

OnMedica Guidance needed to evaluate AI used to support patient care