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Urgent steps needed to tackle inadequate support for women with secondary breast cancer
Date:9/15/2010

The support provided for women with secondary breast cancer is inadequate and urgent steps are needed to provide better services for patients with this progressive incurable disease, which kills half a million women worldwide every year. Those are the key recommendations to emerge from a trio of papers in the September issue of the European Journal of Cancer Care.

Fifty-seven per cent of breast care nurses who took part in a UK survey for Breast Cancer Care told researchers that they felt there was inadequate provision for women whose cancer has spread to other organs, most commonly the bones, lungs, liver and brain. Many also said that they felt ill equipped to care for them.

Forty per cent of the 276 nurses who responded said that they saw caring for women with secondary breast cancer as part of their role, but the majority said that their time was dominated by meeting the needs of patients with primary breast cancer.

Fourteen per cent said that their organisation had a secondary breast care nurse specialist in post and 19 per cent said there was a nurse responsible for secondary breast cancer care. However, eight per cent said that their organisation had no nurses providing care for women with secondary breast cancer and less than 13 per cent of the nurses providing specialist care worked full-time.

A strong theme to emerge from the survey was the fact that breast care nurses felt that their time was dominated by meeting the needs of patients with primary breast cancer.

Many stated that they would like to offer a better support to women with secondary breast cancer, but felt they lacked knowledge and experience of the physical and emotional effects of this progressive disease and didn't have the staff numbers or time available to provide an effective service.

"It is clear that nursing support for UK women with secondary breast cancer is currently inadequate, although many health professionals are aware
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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