Fight Against Cancer IE - Q2 2022

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Q2 2022 | A promotional supplement distributed on behalf of Mediaplanet, which takes sole responsibility for its content

Cancer Fight Against

“It is more important now than ever that people are aware of the signs of cancer.”

“Radiographers play a pivotal role in the delivery of efficient, compassionate and lifesaving care.”

Rachel Morrogh, Director of Advocacy, Irish Cancer Society

Deborah Kelleher & Hannah Turner, Irish Institute of Radiography & Radiation Therapy

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Every single day is about Changing tomorrow. © May 2020 Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd. Date of preparation: May 21 | NON_2021_0012_IE

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Speak to your GP if you have concerns about cancer The disruption caused to healthcare by the pandemic will have a knock-on effect on the cancer system for years to come. Addressing this looming challenge must continue to be a top priority.


e know from research conducted by the Irish Cancer Society in 2021 that many people put off accessing healthcare. This was due to safety concerns amid repeated COVID-19 virus surges, confusion over the availability of GP appointments and not wanting to put more pressure on stretched health services, alongside other considerations.

Rachel Morrogh Director of Advocacy, Irish Cancer Society

Delays in diagnosis Unfortunately, we are already starting to see some of the delayed diagnoses and later stage cancers arising from this situation coming through the system. It is more important than ever that people are aware of the signs of cancer. They must seek medical help as soon as possible if they have a concern, given the impact this can have on survival. The results of a series of roadshow events we ran last year help to illustrate the difference that access to healthcare knowledge can make for people. A total of over 18,000 people visited the roadshow stands across 10 locations nationwide last autumn, with more than 1,000 availing of free health check-ups with a nurse. Understanding signs and symptoms Follow-up surveys show that participants’ understanding of cancer signs, symptoms and risk factors rose by between 10 to 20 percentage points compared to their knowledge of these areas prior to talking to a nurse.



Almost 90% of people said they found the information on offer to be useful. The likelihood of participants contacting their GP if they notice cancer signs or symptoms also rose markedly as a result of the check-ups. This demonstrates the urgent need for actors in the healthcare space to be proactive in reaching out to the public with relevant and reliable information.

The likelihood of participants contacting their GP if they notice cancer signs or symptoms also rose markedly as a result of the check-ups. We are glad to have our Your Health Matters roadshow events back up and running for this year, but this represents just one aspect of a wider push needed to ensure that people of all backgrounds are empowered to get the help they need when they need it.

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We are leading a revolution in Oncology to redefine cancer care IE-3550


Date of preparation: February 2022




New EU regulation must ensure patient access to diagnostics In vitro diagnostics (IVDs) help tackle cancer by informing clinical decision making and treatment, with IVDs manufactured in Ireland making an impact globally.

C Sinead Keogh Director, Irish MedTech Association, Ibec

ancer is the leading cause of death in Ireland accounting for nearly one in three deaths. Innovation in medical technologies and healthcare have improved opportunities for better outcomes with earlier diagnoses, better monitoring and treatment. Nearly 200,000 people who were or had been cancer patients were still alive in Ireland according to some of the latest research in 2019. But survival rates vary. To address this challenge the HSE’s National Cancer Control Programme is striving to create the conditions for greater prevention, diagnosis and treatment, to increase survival and improve quality of life. The medtech industry and its in vitro diagnostics (IVD) manufacturers make a very important contribution in driving this change. Early diagnosis is key to better patient outcomes IVDs are non-invasive, test tube, tests used to determine a person’s health status and are an essential part of any health system. They enable early diagnosis of cancer, ongoing screening and crucially, clinical decisionmaking. IVDs are an integral part of patient pathways, with an estimated 70% of clinical decisions informed by IVDs, reducing the risk of ineffective treatment and increasing personalised care.

Effective EU regulations are essential for patients To be placed onto the market and qualify for use within health systems, a very high regulatory bar is set for IVDs to demonstrate safety, efficacy and clinical benefit. Those products which meet this threshold are awarded a CE mark. From the 26th May 2022, the EU Directive for IVDs will be replaced by a more stringent regulatory regime under the EU IVD Regulation. This will see diagnostics such as cancer assays subject to more rigorous, risk-based assessments. IVD manufacturers support the new EU IVD Regulation which should deliver a predictable, innovation centric regulatory regime which will benefit healthcare systems and patients alike across the EU. Delivering value for patients and health care systems Use of IVDs contributes to reduced hospital stays for Irish cancer patients and a healthier population. Ultimately it also contributes to the Irish economy through healthcare system savings and employment of scientists and professionals across IVD industry, including in high-end IVD R&D. Innovative cancer diagnostic assays developed and manufactured in Ireland are exported to far-reaching global markets contributing to positive healthcare outcomes for cancer patients far beyond our shores.

Patients can help shape cancer research and clinical trial development

partnerships by lobbying our national governments. Focusing on early diagnosis At our recent annual conference, we highlighted the importance of early detection of cancer. It is estimated that there was a 10% reduction in the number of cancer diagnoses in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, equating to approximately 2,000 missed cancer diagnoses.

We believe that patients and research participants have rights to be equal partners with scientific researchers in the design and implementation of research projects and to have their contributions recognised.


atients play a pivotal role in cancer research through not only the provision of biospecimens and their anonymised outcome data through their involvement in clinical trials, but more recently in the synthesis, design and implementation of cancer research projects. Working towards common goals By patients and scientists working together during the early-stage planning of research projects, we can ensure that research is driven by what matters most to the patient i.e. a better quality of life and improved survival outcomes. Our mission at the IACR is to advance cancer research across the island of Ireland and generate a


world-class environment for cancer research for public benefit. Every year, we hold the largest Irish cancer research conference which facilitates the sharing of research through communication, collaboration and education by bringing together cancer researchers, healthcare professionals and patient advocacy groups with the goal of conquering cancer. Therefore, it is essential that we help early-stage scientific researchers to develop the skills required to communicate their scientific discoveries to the public. This is a key goal of the IACR and we believe it will ensure that the world leading research carried out in Ireland can be shared and celebrated by all. We also hope that by raising awareness we can increase funding for these

Professor Tracy Robson IACR President and Head of School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences

It is essential that we help early-stage scientific researchers to develop the skills required to communicate their scientific discoveries to the public. We need to work harder in the areas of early detection of cancer by expanding the cancer screening programs within Ireland to include both lung and gastric cancers, studies which are currently ongoing in the UK. Patients want this, need this and we can ensure that research is focused on providing meaningful outcomes and impact.

Dr Alex J Eustace Honorary Secretary of the IACR, School of Biotechnology, Dublin City University

The Irish Association for Cancer Research (IACR) ( is an All-Ireland non-profit organisation for scientific and healthcare researchers across all oncology disciplines.




Personalised radiotherapy delivered through MR-guided radiotherapy The era of magnetic resonance radiation therapy began in the UK, when the first prostate cancer patient was treated with a new innovative therapy.


ack in September 2018, a 65-year-old patient became a medical pioneer, by volunteering to be the first in the United Kingdom to receive his radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer on Elekta Unity. A revolutionary magnetic resonance radiation therapy (MR/RT) system that enables delivery of highly personalised radiation treatment. Elekta Unity combines a state-of-theart 1.5T MRI with an advanced radiation delivery system. The MRI provides superior visualisation of the day-to-day changes in the anatomy which enables the clinical care team to reshape the radiation dose for every treatment to account for changes in shape and position of the tumour and surrounding healthy tissue. It ensures an accurate dose is delivered to the tumour, while minimising the radiation dose to healthy tissue and surrounding organs. Since MRI imaging does not involve the use of x-rays or ionising radiation, the care team can continuously image and monitor the patient’s anatomy throughout the treatment. This way the patient receives personalised treatment every day. Right patient at the right time “The patient came along at exactly the right time,” recalls Alison Tree, MD, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden and Team Leader in Urooncology Clinical Trials at the ICR. “We began recruiting patients to participate in a clinical trial in July 2018 and we needed a first patient. “I had discussed the study with the patient a couple months before because I anticipated he would be finishing the initial phase of his hormone therapy. Since he wouldn’t need long-term hormone treatments, had a relatively small prostate and no urinary symptoms, he was an ideal candidate.” The Royal Marsden and the ICR were the third site in the world to begin treating clinically with Elekta Unity. There are now 45 systems in use around the globe and more than 4,000 patients have benefitted from it.

Liz Raspa Marketing Director, Region Europe, Elekta

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Radiographers and radiation therapists play a crucial role in diagnosis and in cancer care delivery

Radiographers and radiation therapists are at the heart of technological innovations of cancer diagnosis, staging, treatment and post treatment care.


t every stage of the cancer journey, patients interact with diagnostic radiographers and radiation therapists. This includes X-ray, CT scans, MRI scans, ultrasound, nuclear medicine or in cancer treatment in the form of radiation therapy. The importance of imaging Innovations in care have allowed for early diagnosis of cancer across the multitude of imaging platforms, from low dose CT scanning for lung cancer screening, or digital mammography and its enhanced cancer detection rates. Imaging is the eyes of cancer care and careful planning and execution of scans by radiographers provides the best diagnostic result with the least amount of exposure to ionising radiation. Radiographers play a pivotal role in the delivery of efficient, compassionate and lifesaving care to all those on their cancer journey. Latest updates include clinical 3Tesla MRI scanners, photon counting CT and contrast enhanced ultrasound, further aiding in both the structural and functional information provided to the patient’s team. The role of radiation therapists Radiation therapists (RTTs) are centrally placed in the delivery of cancer care. RTTs are highly educated and skilled cancer experts who are fully integral to the delivery of radiation treatment to people diagnosed with cancer They are involved in the education of patients at the beginning of their radiation therapy journey. RTTs prepare the patients for planning and treatment. They are present daily during treatment which can range from one treatment to six weeks. RTTs are uniquely positioned to encompass emotional wellbeing, provide holistic support and referrals to other health professionals as required as responsibilities of their professional role.

Radiographers play a pivotal role in the delivery of efficient, compassionate and lifesaving care to all those on their cancer journey. Adapting practices for patient benefit Aside from supportive care, RTTs are integral to the accurate preparation, planning and treatment with autonomy but within a complex multidisciplinary team (MDT). Innovations in cancer treatment mean RTTs continuously upskill by adapting practices for the benefits of the cancer patients. New innovations include MRI linear accelerators, SABR (stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy), DIBH (deep inspiration breath hold) for left sided breast cancers and HDR for prostate and gynaecological malignancies.

Deborah Kelleher Clinical Specialist Radiation Therapist, BSc (Hons) Therapeutic Radiography, PGc APRT

Hannah Turner Senior Radiographer BSc. MSc, Irish Institute of Radiography and Radiation Therapy



Searching for solutions to clinical trial barriers There are precious few good outcomes from the pandemic, but one of them is widespread public appreciation of clinical trials.


he appreciation is clearly reflected in the public response to two surveys about clinical trials that we undertook, one in 2020 and another in April 2022. It is unlikely that the public’s awareness, understanding and appetite for clinical trials has ever been higher. Here are the headlines:

Ms Eibhlín Mulroe CEO, Cancer Trials Ireland

• Three in five (60%) people in Ireland would participate in a trial (48% in 2020). • Nine in 10 (88%) think trials are a good idea (72% in 2020). • Approximately 85% agree trials provide access to treatments that are not otherwise available (72% in 2020). • One in four (26%) would participate in a trial specifically to access treatments that are not otherwise available (15% in 2020). Overcoming barriers to trials However, there are a number of solutions needed in overcoming the barriers to accessing cancer trials, which unfortunately are numerous and structural. • We need to embed health research in health planning – so that the system values health research, and what it can do for patients and patient outcomes. • We need to resource research governance, so that hospitals, groups and the system as a whole actually has the staff and frameworks to support embedding health research in health planning.

• We need to employ full-time data protection officers, give them proper training and support them with research governance officers. • We need to streamline and harmonise the data protection documents hindering clinical trials in Ireland right now. • We need to properly resource the Office for National Research Ethics Committees, so that trials can open in a predictable, timely manner in Ireland. • We need to offer protected time to the surgical, radiation and medical oncologists and haematologists who want to do research. Reaching cancer trial targets None of these problems have an easy solution. But they are what stand between us and enough clinical trials to reach the target of cancer patients on trials set in the National Cancer Strategy (6%). But while we press the Government for more investment in cancer trials, it is actually the people of Ireland themselves who have made new trials possible in recent years, through philanthropy and donations. However, we should not and cannot rely on public generosity to reach our targets. There remains a shortfall in public funding. Without it, we will never overcome the issues I described above and we will never hit our 6% target.

Data is a key driver of successful outcomes for patients The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that real-time data sharing is essential for health research.

A Dr Ruth Clifford Consultant Haematologist, University Hospital Limerick

Aedín Culhane Professor of Biomedical Sciences (Cancer Genomics) in the UL School of Medicine, University of Limerick

ccess to novel treatments through clinical trials can lead to improved outcomes for patients with cancer. Here, at University Hospital Limerick, we are partnering with our university and national networks to improve access for patients to novel treatments and new diagnostic platforms. Strong collaboration with the Limerick Digital Cancer Research Centre at the University of Limerick aims to embed data driven cancer research within our hospital. This will ultimately shift the research focus from the laboratory to the clinic. Improving clinical trial recruitment The Limerick Digital Cancer Research Centre All-Island eHealth Hub for cancer is a forward-thinking approach that hopes to improve recruitment to clinical trials by


understanding the true demographic of cancer in the Irish population. During the COVID pandemic, frontline health care workers in the Cancer Centres of Ireland witnessed the effects of limited services and delayed diagnoses. Recognising the importance of data intelligence in cancer, the e-health hub will directly address these challenges with datadriven healthcare. This program will facilitate tracking of cancer statistics in real-time by harmonising cancer data across the island and linking with global consortia. The hub, funded by a €4 million grant under the Shared Ireland North South Research Fund, combines the strength of the Limerick Digital Cancer Research Centre and Cancer Research in Queens University Belfast and will study frameworks and international standards for sharing of electronic health data.

International cancer collaboration Professor Culhane’s ambitious, all-Island research programme with Professor Mark Lawler at Queen’s University, Belfast aim to link cancer data on the island of Ireland and connect Ireland to the international cancer community. This is a great opportunity for patients in the Mid-West region to join the global research community, helping to save lives through the application of data science and digital health. Sharing data brings enormous benefits to Ireland as it provides the ability to leverage the knowledge of bigger countries, participate in global clinical trials that study new medicines in cancer and work together to develop better national, EU or global policy in disease treatment and prevention. Promoting investment and collaboration Expanded data sets including molecular tumour data will be built into this program. Professor Clifford states: ‘Data will save lives because access to accurate data will lead to more targeted clinical trial recruitment, which in turn will attract more investment from sponsors such as the pharmaceutical industry or international collaborative groups. Partnering with Cancer Trials Ireland, and the Blood Cancer Network Ireland we will promote greater investment in clinical trials in Ireland’.

Paid for by University Hospital Limerick

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Doctors are now able to target tumours with more than one treatment at once, using different mechanisms of action to increase the chance of a patient’s cancer being kept under control or even cured.

Putting patients at the heart of cancer advancements Today, there is more hope than ever before for those who receive a cancer diagnosis. Patients have more options available to them to treat their cancers and are surviving for longer.

Mairead McCaul Managing Director, MSD Ireland


espite the progress being made, cancer isn’t going away. The number of annual cases of cancer in Ireland is expected to almost double by 2040 and the situation has been further complicated by COVID-19 and the full impact it has had on Ireland’s health system. The good news is that there is still much which can be done to support patients in the fight against cancer and the quality of care within our health service is improving all the time. Improving cancer outlook MSD have been in Ireland for more than 50 years and in that timeframe outcomes for cancer patients have dramatically shifted. New treatments, increased awareness of cancers and timely diagnoses have led to improved patient outcomes. The patient is at the centre of all that we do at MSD. We are proud that our medicines are supporting patients in their battle against cancer throughout Ireland and across the globe. Putting the patient first Looking at some of the great innovations which have taken place to support patients, doctors are now able to target tumours with more than one treatment at once, using different mechanisms of action to increase the chance of a patient’s cancer being kept under control or even cured. Treatments are also becoming more targeted as doctors can use biomarkers and gene sequencing to determine which patients have the best chance of responding to particular medicines. This not only increases the chances of a positive outcome for the patient; it also allows healthcare system resources to be used more efficiently. Innovations require access However, innovation without access is meaningless. Despite making potentially life changing treatments here in Ireland, we’re still lagging behind many of our European counterparts. No patient should have to hear that a potentially beneficial treatments might be available to them if they lived in another country. Especially when



many of these treatments are made right here in Ireland. We at MSD, as well as the wider industry around us, recognise that innovative medicines can present affordability challenges to healthcare systems. We want to work with the Irish Government to come up with solutions that work for both patients and the health service alike. Collaboration with patient organisations We also regularly collaborate with patient organisations on campaigns focused specifically on raising awareness about cancer, particularly when it comes to cancer prevention. We have supported several campaigns to try and strengthen the voice of patients across Ireland by supporting health literacy and fighting the stigma some diseases and cancers unfortunately still carry to this day. This includes working with the Marie Keating Foundation as co-sponsors of the Making Moments Matter campaign. The initiative saw patients and families from all over the country tell the stories of significant moments in their lives since being diagnosed with lung cancer or losing a loved one. Further, we’ve collaborated with NALA (The National Adult Literacy Agency) and the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) to produce several health literacy awareness videos to support cancer patients and their families. Helping people through challenging times Figures show approximately 45,000 people across Ireland receive a cancer diagnosis every year. A cancer diagnosis is news that nobody wants to hear and represents one of the toughest challenges a patient, their loved ones can experience in a lifetime. At MSD, we are committed to supporting all those touched by this disease in any way we can. We firmly believe that the most important thing we make is a difference, which is why we are so passionate to remain at the forefront in the fight against cancer in Ireland.

Spread paid for by MSD



Hope and a warning: the two faces of cancer treatment in Ireland The fight against cancer in Ireland has gained some significant ground in recent years, but there is still plenty to be done to reform the system.


ith over 30 years’ experience, Professor John Crown, Consultant Medical Oncologist at St Vincent’s Hospital, says there have been extraordinary changes and improvements in cancer treatment as a result of global research efforts. Among the results are substantial reductions in breast cancer mortality rates, particularly the HER2-positive form. “I believe that is virtually entirely due to better treatments, rather than screening,” Professor Crown says. “I’m proud to say we’ve done a lot of research on this at St Vincent’s and in the research organisation formerly called the Irish Cooperative and Oncology Research Group (ICORG).”

I’m very grateful that I’ve lived and practiced long enough to see the extraordinary changes in improvements in cancer treatment.

Progress in immunotherapy One of the biggest surprises is the success of immunotherapy, according to Professor Crown. “There have been extraordinary advances in the understanding of how the immune system interacts with cancer and how it can be changed.” Overall, breakthroughs in the fight against cancer in recent decades have been striking, Crown says. “I’m very grateful that I’ve lived and

practiced long enough to see the extraordinary changes in improvements in cancer treatment which have occurred as a result of worldwide methodical research efforts.” Putting changes into action However, progress is slower on some forms of cancer, including pancreatic and prostate. Professor Crown voices concern over the Irish health system’s ability to put some findings into action. “There have been clear data showing CT screening scans for smokers and former smokers can dramatically reduce the chance of dying of lung cancer,” he explains. “It’s really promising, but we’re desperately badly set up to deal with it. In a country where you can be waiting six months to get a CT scan when you’re sick, how can we do screenings? Do we have enough radiologists and pathologists to read the tests? Do we have enough lung physicians and surgeons to do the follow up tests? “We’re really behind the ball on this, and it will continue to fester until we fix the health service. All we’re doing at the minute is playing Whack-a-Mole.”

Professor John Crown Consultant Medical Oncologist, St Vincent’s Hospital WRITTEN BY Meredith Jones-Russell

A lung cancer community for Ireland A founding member of the Irish Lung Cancer Community and lung cancer researcher at Trinity College Dublin, Anne-Marie Baird, discusses the origins, goals, aspirations and mission for a newly formed patient advocacy group.

Anne Marie Baird, Founding Committee Member, Irish Lung Cancer Community WRITTEN BY Mark Nicholls

How did the organisation come about? As there is no specific lung cancer support group in Ireland, a group of us got together last year and formed the Irish Lung Cancer Community (ILCC). ILCC is a mix of people living with lung cancer, caregivers and people who are interested in advocating for the lung cancer community. What is the situation with lung cancer in Ireland? There are about 2,700 cases a year and 1,800 deaths. Lung cancer is the leading killer of males and females in Ireland, causing more cancer-related deaths than any other cancer type. Five-year survival is around 20%, which is very low compared to other common cancers, such as breast or prostate cancer.

What are the key goals to be achieved? We want to empower people living with lung cancer to be involved in their treatment decisions and receive the best care possible. We also want to raise awareness about lung cancer, promote earlier diagnosis and ensure there is a strong patient voice around lung cancer Our vision is that all services in Ireland.

people impacted by lung cancer in Ireland will have the best chance of survival and live life as well as possible.

What is the vision and mission for the group? Our vision is that all people impacted by lung cancer in Ireland will have the best chance of survival and live life as well as possible. Our mission is to be the united voice of people impacted by lung cancer and provide them with information, education and support. We also aim to work on


promoting more positive perceptions of the disease and tackle the stigma associated with it.

How do people access and connect with the ILCC? We have a Twitter handle (@LungCommunity), Facebook page and Instagram (Irish Lung Cancer Community) and our email address is Please get in touch! We have a virtual Fireside Chat on the first Thursday of every month, developed leaflets for hospitals/clinics and as we set up as a charity, we would like to hear from anyone who can potentially help us.

Find out more at




Improving awareness for lesser-known blood cancers Dr Su Wai Maung, MD, MBBS, MRCP(UK), FRCPI, FRCPATH Consultant Haematologist, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital & Secretary/ Treasurer, Haemotology Association of Ireland


Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is a form of blood cancer due to bone marrow failure where the body no longer makes enough healthy blood cells.

he result of the body not making enough healthy blood cells is having low blood counts such as anaemia, low white blood cells and low platelet count. One in three patients with MDS may progress to acute, which is a more severe form of blood cancer. Potential triggers of MDS MDS is primarily a disease of older persons (age 65 and over) but also can be found in younger people. The exact cause for MDS is yet unknown. However, potential triggers are identified such as previous treatment with radiation or chemotherapy and environmental factors such as long-term exposure to chemicals like benzene. While many patients may not experience any symptoms at the time of diagnosis, some patients with MDS may have symptoms related to having low blood counts: • Low red blood cells (anaemia) which causes tiredness, lack of energy, poor exercise tolerance. • Low white blood cells which causes recurrent infections. • Low platelet levels which causes abnormal bruising or bleeding. Advances in diagnostic testing The first step in diagnosing MDS is to check the blood count and examination of the patient’s blood cells under the microscope to detect abnormal features suggestive of underlying MDS. Low blood count



levels may also be due to other causes such as medications, infections, low levels of vitamins and nutrients, immune disorders etc. It is important to check other possible factors for low blood counts first before confirming the diagnosis with specific tests for MDS such as bone marrow examination. Advances in diagnostic tests enable better understanding of the disease biology and provides useful information for choosing appropriate treatment options. Studying chromosomal abnormalities and molecular changes associated with MDS have now become standard of care. Finding best treatment options Treatment of MDS depends on how low your blood count is and the severity of bone marrow failure. Some patients may not require any treatment but some requires transfusion of red blood cells and platelets or more specific treatment for MDS. MDS-specific treatment ranges from growth factors to improve blood counts, intensive or non-intensive chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. Many patients who do not require treatment at the time of diagnosis will be closely monitored on regular basis by haematology team. New treatments are tested and evaluated through clinical trials and many trials are ongoing for MDS patients worldwide. In Ireland, a new clinical trial using a monoclonal antibody in combination with a standard treatment will be recruiting patients soon.

The impact of nursing specialists on cancer care Building a network of nursing specialists is key to supporting the growing number of people who are both being diagnosed with and surviving cancer.


n the last decade, cancer treatment has changed dramatically. The increasing use of oral anti-cancer medication has taken care out of hospitals and into the comfort of patients’ own homes. Through this communitybased approach, patients are also benefitting from the support of clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) in the hospital who act as a link between support in the community and hospital. Many more patients are receiving specialist care in the community through tele-health clinics run by advanced nurse practitioners (ANPs). But, as Fidelma Hackett, who leads an ANP haematology clinic in University Hospital Limerick, admits, there is still work to be done when it comes to understanding what this critical group of nurses do. Understanding specialist nursing roles: ANPs are specialists, with years of experience in their field and master’s degree level qualifications. Through regular clinics they do everything from prescribing treatment and managing medication to conducting examinations, and planning follow-up support with other healthcare professionals. “Nursing by its nature is holistic,” explains Hackett. “At a clinic, yes, you’re looking for signs of disease progression and any side effects of treatment but you’re also looking at the social, economic and mental health of patients as well as quality of life.” Fidelma Hackett Advanced Nurse Practitioner, University Hospital Limerick WRITTEN BY Kate Sharma

Sinead Lawlor, Haematology CNS at University Hospital Limerick, highlights the crucial role of the CNS in providing advice and support for patients during their cancer journey. “Patients can become daunted before their initial consultation. They can be anxious. We advocate and empower patients, helping to prepare them for, what at times can be a difficult consultation especially when breaking bad news. Patients appreciate having a specific person they know and trust and someone they can call on later from home. We get great feedback all the time about that service.” Putting patients first “Everything we do is patient focused,” continues Hackett. “It’s about streamlining the services and getting patients where they need to be. As nurses, we are very close to patients so we hear their problems and can work to improve the solutions.” Lawlor also highlights: “We coordinate patients’ care with different services, such as dieticians and physiotherapists, and are the link between the hospital and the community. We help to improve their quality of life in the community and reduce unwanted admissions to hospital.” As survivorship improves and new medical and technological innovations are developed, it is inevitable that the role of specialist cancer nurses will become more and more central to every patient’s cancer journey. Sinead Lawlor Haematology Clinical Nurse Specialist, University Hospital Limerick

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