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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Breast cancer charity urges better access to post-hospital support for patients

Written by Ella Pickover

Breast cancer patients should be given better access to support after their hospital treatment ends, a charity has said.

The call from Breast Cancer Care comes after a new poll found that many women said being discharged from hospital care was one of the hardest moments to face.

The survey of 800 British women who had undergone treatment for breast cancer found that more than a quarter (26%) said their hospital treatment ending was harder than having a breast removed or going through chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Only one in 10 said they felt positive and ready to move on when they were discharged from hospital treatment.

Just over half (53%) said they struggled with anxiety at the end of treatment and 31% said they suffered with depression, according to the charity - which has just launched a new app - BECCA - offering support for women when they finish treatment.

David Crosby, director of services and engagement at Breast Cancer Care, said: "For the majority of women, breast cancer doesn't stop when hospital treatment ends.

"Getting back to 'normal' can feel like a huge mountain to climb, and many find that leaving hospital after their last appointment is the hardest moment of all.

"Those who have faced breast cancer have already been through enough, and should not be left to cope alone with ongoing mental health issues, debilitating physical side effects and constant fear of what lies ahead.

"The NHS must ensure every breast cancer patient has access to support once their hospital treatment ends. Despite commitments to make this happen, there has been worryingly little progress to turn this promise into reality."

One patient, Katie Akerman, said she struggled with anxiety after treatment. The 46-year-old from Chichester said: "After attending hospital on a weekly basis for treatment, once it's finished you're just sent on your way and it feels like nobody is looking out for you any more.

"I couldn't put a name to it but I just felt panic-stricken. My anxiety was controlling me and I didn't have anywhere to turn.

"There needs to be more out there to help women understand what they're going through and cope with the aftermath of cancer."

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