The number of people being cured of their cancer is increasing but as they live longer, many are now coming forward, cured of their disease but living with significant late effects of treatment. Radiotherapy, in particular, is known for causing late effects mostly through a process of tissue fibrosis and reduction in blood flow. At the RTLE clinic at NUH, patients can self-refer. From there, they can either be given information about managing their RTLE or clear and open pathways to access a wide array of specialist interest clinical teams and services within the Trust.
Radiotherapy (RT) is an essential curative treatment involved in the management of 40% of patients who are cured of cancer. Cancer survival is at its highest ever, with significant improvements being made over the last 15 years and more than half of people receiving a cancer diagnosis will now live ten years or more. But one in four people who have been treated for cancer live with ill health or disability as a consequence of their treatment.
It is imperative that radiotherapy departments have a comprehensive RTLE programme to ensure that patients access the correct care by specialist teams in a timely manner. Yet currently very few radiotherapy departments within the UK run an RTLE programme, almost none is fully comprehensive over all tumour sites and none is staffed by clinical teams fully trained in radiotherapy treatment.
These included: to better inform patients and GPs about RTLE at the end of their radiotherapy treatment and how to access support; to source specialist clinical teams within the Trust who had an interest in or who were keen to develop an interest in RTLE and build a relationship with them; to develop rapid and clear pathways of referral to the specialist clinical teams; and to create a ‘one-stop’ RTLE clinic to which patients could self-refer.
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