Cancer patients 'suffering needless pain'

14 October 2014 10:44

Secondary breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread from the breast to other parts of the body

Secondary breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread from the breast to other parts of the body

A leading charity claims that women with incurable breast cancer are often suffering needless pain.

Breast Cancer Care says that offering patients with secondary breast cancer the option of palliative care might help ease that pain and improve their quality of life.

However, a survey it conducted shows that a third of patients with the condition have never been offered the option, leaving them to get on with their lives in excruciating pain.

Palliative care tries to relieve pain while also providing psychological, social and spiritual support. It is often associated with end-of-life care but with many people now living years with the diagnosis it can also be beneficial for those looking to make the most of their time.

Such care could allow cancer patients to consider a holiday, providing families with some happy memories and helping to take their mind off treatment.

Of course they should also consider special medical insurance for cancer patients, as it will provide them with peace of mind during their trip should they need to go to hospital or require replacements for lost medicine.

The charity says it is vital that doctors have the right training in order to be able to offer palliative care as an option to patients, expressing concern over comments from respondents to its survey who said the support they had been offered was "second rate".

By making sure women have access to such treatment, patients with secondary breast cancer might be better able to manage their pain, the charity says.

What is secondary breast cancer?

Secondary breast cancer is when cells break away from the primary breast cancer and spread to other parts of the body.

:: Primary breast cancer starts as a lump in the breast.

:: Many women can be cured by treatment but in some instances the cancer cells spread to other areas.

:: These cancer cells form a secondary cancer or metastasis.

:: This new cancer is made up of breast cancer cells even if, for instance, it is found in the liver. It will behave as breast cancer and be treated by doctors in the same way rather than as a primary liver cancer.

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