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Chemotherapy mortality study highlights the importance of secondary breast cancer care nurses

Public Health England and Cancer Research UK publish study revealing 30-day mortality rates for chemotherapy patients
Breast cancer nurses

A national study of patient mortality after chemotherapy treatment reveals the need for more secondary breast cancer nurses, according to a clinical nurse specialist.

Public Health England and Cancer Research UK looked at data relating to 28,364 breast cancer patients and 15,045 lung cancer patients in England aged 24 years or older who started a cycle of systemic anti-cancer treatment (SACT) in 2014.

SACT includes chemotherapy, monoclonal antibody therapies and targeted biological treatments.

In a study published in the September edition of Lancet Oncology, the organisations investigated patients 30-day mortality after their most recent cycle of SACT.

Palliative care

For breast cancer patients receiving SACT for palliative reasons, 30-day mortality was 7.5%, while it was 10% for lung cancer patients receiving the treatment with palliative intent.

Just under 3% (2.9%) of lung cancer

A national study of patient mortality after chemotherapy treatment reveals the need for more secondary breast cancer nurses, according to a clinical nurse specialist.

Chemotherapy_mortality_rates
More secondary breast cancer nurses are needed Picture: Alamy

Public Health England and Cancer Research UK looked at data relating to 28,364 breast cancer patients and 15,045 lung cancer patients in England aged 24 years or older who started a cycle of systemic anti-cancer treatment (SACT) in 2014.

SACT includes chemotherapy, monoclonal antibody therapies and targeted biological treatments.

In a study published in the September edition of Lancet Oncology, the organisations investigated patients’ 30-day mortality after their most recent cycle of SACT.

Palliative care

For breast cancer patients receiving SACT for palliative reasons, 30-day mortality was 7.5%, while it was 10% for lung cancer patients receiving the treatment with palliative intent.

Just under 3% (2.9%) of lung cancer patients receiving SACT with curative intent died within 30 days while the figure was 0.3% for breast cancer patients treated with the same intent.

The researchers highlighted a significant increase in 30-day mortality for patients undergoing their first treatment cycle.

First treatment cycle

Breast cancer patients receiving palliative SACT had a 15% 30-day mortality rate if they were undergoing their first treatment cycle, compared with 7% for those who had previously received treatment.

Breast Cancer Care clinical nurse specialist Jane Murphy said palliative breast cancer patients who have not previously had chemotherapy would benefit from secondary breast care nurses.

But she added: ‘The difficulty is we do not have enough secondary breast care nurses.

‘Many women who have a recurrence do not have access to a breast care nurse.

‘There is not that key worker they can ring if they have questions about their treatment. That would certainly help.’

Assessment

The secondary breast care nurse would be able to assess the patient if their health changes, she said.

Macmillan Cancer Support programme lead for treatment and recovery Dany Bell said the report highlighted the importance of informing community nursing teams about a patient’s chemotherapy treatment.

She said: ‘It is making sure the right people have the right information to support that person.’


Further information

Lancet Oncology report on 30-day mortality

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