On the pulse 25th July 2013

  • Opening date set for our new Plaistow venue
  • Last chance to buy discounted tickets for Hysteria!
  • Study shows link between higher levels of sex hormones and an increased risk of breast cancer

Opening date set for our new Plaistow venue
Following on from last week’s announcement that the East London Programme will now be holding additional sessions at an venue in Plaistow, I very am happy to let everyone know that it will open next week!

The first therapy sessions will take place on Thursday 1st August, with one-to-one reflexology and reiki sessions being held from 1.00pm to 4.30pm. A group yoga class will also take place. To book in for any of these sessions, or simply to find out more about our new Plaistow venue, please contact Anisah on 020 7830 2310 or email her on a.undre@cancerkin.org.uk.

We would like to thank the Given-Wilson Institute once again for all their help in establishing the additional location, and enabling women from East London to access our complementary therapies and support without having to travel across London.

Last chance to buy discounted tickets for Hysteria!

Cancerkin’s theatre evening in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month will take place at the Hampstead Theatre on Monday 7th October 2013. Set in 1938 in Hampstead, Hysteria was written and directed by Terry Johnson and stars Antony Sher as Sigmund Freud. An acknowledged modern classic, this hilarious farce is not one to miss.

Tickets for the performance can be bought directly from Cancerkin and include a pre-play drinks reception.  However, you only have until Friday 2nd August 2013 to secure tickets at our “early bird” price of £45, so if you are planning on attending do book soon!

More information and ticket order forms can be found on our website. Alternatively, you can contact Holly if you have any further queries or would like to book tickets. She can be reached on h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk or by calling 020 7830 2323.

A new infusion suite at the Finchley Memorial Hospital (FMH) is bringing cancer care closer to patients’ homes
The nurse-led service is a the result of a joint project between the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust and means that some cancer patients can now receive chemotherapy infusions and supportive treatments in this purpose-designed unit instead of having to travel to the Royal Free, Barnet Hospital or Chase Farm Hospital.

All patients will continue to start their treatment at one of the three hospitals, but, where clinically appropriate, patients will be offered the choice of continuing their treatment at FMH if it is more convenient for them.

The first person to be treated at the new unit was Tithi Pandya, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in February. She spoke of how useful this suite was: “I was very impressed with the unit. It’s so new and clean, all the staff are warm and welcoming…

“It’s very convenient for me and saves me so much time – it takes me 45 minutes on the bus to Barnet Hospital, as opposed to a 15-minute walk to Finchley Memorial. That really helps me in terms of organising childcare as well.”

Anyone who is interested just needs to speak to one of their nurses or consultant when they next visit the hospital. For more information about other Royal Free clinics at FMH, please see the Royal Free website.

Study shows link between higher levels of sex hormones and an increased risk of breast cancer
Research published in The Lancet Oncology has found a link between higher levels of sex hormones and an increased risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women.

The scientists, based at the University of Oxford, brought together data on hormone levels in the blood from seven earlier studies. In total, data from approximately 760 premenopausal women with breast cancer and 1,700 premenopausal women without breast cancer was considered.

The study found that doubling the concentration of the female sex hormones (oestradiol and oestrone) or the male sex hormones (androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone and testosterone) increased the risk of breast cancer by between one-fifth and one-third.

Lead author Professor Tim Key, said: “This analysis combined the results from seven previous studies to provide enough data for us to focus on the association between hormone levels and the risk of breast cancer in women before the age of 50. The results demonstrate a link between higher overall levels of sex hormones and breast cancer in premenopausal women – although due to the large variation in hormone levels over the menstrual cycle these findings cannot be used now to classify the risk for individual women.

“While the link between higher levels of sex hormones and breast cancer is well established in older, postmenopausal women, it’s much less clear what effect hormones have on cancer risk in younger, premenopausal women.

“But from this study we can say there appears to be a link, which has important implications for understanding the biology of breast cancer and for planning future research. “

Hazel Nunn, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “This is a fascinating piece of research which is helping us to understand more about the role of sex hormones and the effect might have on breast cancer. With 1 in 5 breast cancers now diagnosed in women under 50 it’s important that we find out as much as we can about what increases the risk for younger women. We don’t yet know why having higher levels of some sex hormones might increase a woman’s risk so further research is needed to investigate this link.”

For more information, please see Cancer Research UK.

Holly Lovering                                                                                                                   25th July 2013

On the pulse 18th July 2013

  • Get your sponsorship in from Hyde Park Walk
  • Parliamentary inquiry calls for gold standard care for older breast cancer patients

Cancerkin opens a new venue in Plaistow!
We are very excited to announce that the East London Programme will now be offering monthly sessions in Plaistow. This new venue is in addition to our current locations at St Joseph’s Hospice and St Peter’s Church in Hackney and at Bromley-by-Bow Health Centre in Bromley-by-Bow.

East London has one of the highest one year breast cancer mortality rates in the UK. Despite this, there is very little non-medical support in the area. Cancerkin’s East London Programme brings our support services to East London , offering a diverse range of complementary therapies including reflexology, massage and art therapy to women who have been diagnosed with cancer.

This new venue will allow us to provide our services to women who previously had little access to non-medical support, or have had to travel long distance to reach it. We would particularly like to thank the Given-Wilson Institute for all their support in helping us to set up this forth centre and bring our support services to a new area.

If you have any questions about complementary therapy sessions in Plaistow, or would just like to know more, please contact Anisah on 020 7830 2310 or email her on eastldn@cancerkin.org.uk.

Parliamentary inquiry calls for gold standard care for older breast cancer patients
A new report launched this week has outlined new and urgent recommendations to tackle issues of health inequality for older breast cancer patients. Called Age is Just a Number, the report comes out of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer (APPGBC) parliamentary inquiry into older people with breast cancer and was produced in association with leading breast cancer charities Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Campaign.

In the past decades, huge advances in has been made in the treatment of breast cancer with more women than ever before surveying the disease. However, there is an age disparity in both incidence and survival rates. Currently, a third of all breast cancers occur in women of age 70 and over, while more than half of the women who die of breast cancer in the UK today are over 70.

Despite these figures, it appears that many older people may not be receiving the level and type of support, treatment and information that they need. The APPGBC therefore set out to investigate these inequalities and identify the barriers that may prevent all patients from having access to the services, treatments and care that will benefit them most, regardless of age.

One of the factors that has been linked to poorer breast cancer survival in older women is later presentation. Approximately 20 per cent of breast cancer cases in people over the age of 80 are diagnosed through emergency presentation, compared with four per cent of cases across all age groups. The report therefore recommends investing in sustained breast awareness campaigns for older women while also conducting further research into the potential benefits, and harm, of extending the National Screening Programme to women up to the age of 79.

It was also found that once diagnosed, older women are experiencing inequalities in access to cancer services and treatment, which may be having a negative impact on their survival. While it is true that older breast cancer patients are more likely to have particular needs that their younger counterparts, the report found evidence that chronological age is being given undue weight in treatment decisions, despite discrimination on basis of age in health and social care being unlawful. They therefore highlighted the need for an accurate, reliable and practical method of measuring patient’s fitness to properly inform treatment decisions.

The charities Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Campaign said in a joint statement: “No one’s age should dictate their access to the best possible treatments and care. As the UK’s leading breast cancer charities, we have joined forces with the APPGBC to tackle the long suspected issue of age inequality amongst breast cancer patients.

“For most women, getting older is the biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer so we must take action to ensure older breast cancer patients receive the same gold standard of care as younger women.

“We are calling on NHS England, Public Health England and Clinical Commissioning Groups to implement these recommendations as soon as possible to ensure older patients are treated as individuals, and not stereotyped by their age.”

The full report can be downloaded from the Breakthrough Breast Cancer website and is well worth a read. More information can also be found from Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Care  and Breast Cancer Campaign.

Holly Lovering                                                                                                   18th July 2013

On the pulse 11th July 2013

  • Antony Sher stars in Hysteria at Cancerkin’s Theatre Evening!
  • Study suggests working night-shifts increases the risk of developing breast cancer

Antony Sher stars in Hysteria at Cancerkin’s Theatre Evening!
This year, Cancerkin’s theatre evening in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month will take place at Hampstead Theatre on Monday 7th October 2013.

Set in 1938 in Hampstead, Hysteria follows Sigmund Freud (played by Antony Sher), who has fled Nazi-occupied Austria and is hoping to spend his final days in peace. However, when Salvador Dali turns up to discover a less than fully dressed woman in the closet, he finds peace becomes somewhat elusive. Written and directed by Terry Johnson, this hilarious farce is an acknowledged Modern Classic which explores the fall-out when two of the twentieth century’s most brilliant and original minds collide and questions Freud’s radical revision of his theories of Hysteria.

Tickets can be bought directly from Cancerkin and include a drinks reception before the performance.  There is an “early bird” discount price of £45 (tickets will be £50 after Friday 2st August 2013). To book your ticket and guarantee your place please visit our website or contact Holly on h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk.

We are currently looking for ‘envelope-stuffers’ to help us get these invitations out as quickly as possible! We will, of course, provide drinks and biscuits. Any time anyone can spare would be so greatly appreciated (even if it is just half an hour before a massage!). If you would like to help, please contact Holly on h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk or 020 7830 2323. Alternatively, if you are in the Cancerkin Centre and would like to help, just speak to any member of staff.

If you have any questions please contact Holly on h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk or call 020 7830 2323.

Study suggests working night-shifts increases the risk of developing breast cancer
A study, published last week in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, has indicated that women who work long-term night-shift jobs are twice as likely to develop breast cancer as those who work normal hours.

The Canadian study examined 2,313 women of the same age: 1,134 who had had breast cancer and 1,179 who had not. Each woman was questioned about her work and shift patterns, and the researchers also studied the hospital records of the women who had developed breast cancer. Approximately a third of the women had a history of night-shift work.

The scientists found that the women who had worked nights for thirty or more years were twice as likely to have developed breast cancer, taking into account potentially influential factors. No relationship was found if the women had worked for less than thirty years doing shift-work.

There have been many previous studies considering the link, if any, between shift-work and developing breast cancer. While many of the studies show a link, there has not yet been strong enough evidence to conclude, with certainty, that working night shifts can cause cancer in humans. One reason for this is that studies often use different definitions of “night-shifts”. This means it is difficult to compare the results of different studies. There has also been little consistency in how previous research has taken other breast cancer risk factors, such as weight, alcohol consumption and her history of pregnancy into account.

While this particular study did find a link between shift-work and increased incidence of breast cancer, the size of the study is comparatively small, which limits how reliably we can view the study’s results. Dr Jane Green, clinical epidemiologist at the University of Oxford, notes: “This seems to be a well-conducted study with the benefit of more detailed occupational history than in many studies.

“The finding of an increased risk of breast cancer in women with a long history of shift work adds to similar results from some previous studies, but does not change the existing consensus: that while there is some evidence to associate increased risk of breast cancer with very long term shift work, the evidence is not yet sufficient to be sure and certainly not sufficient to give a public health message about working shifts.

“With further work, the increased cancer risk may not be confirmed; and even if it is, could turn out to be explained by differences in known breast cancer risk factors among shift workers vs non-shift workers. In other words, it might not be the shift work itself that is to blame. We therefore cannot interpret this study to say shift work causes cancer.”

Her comments are echoed by Dr Hannah Bridges, from Breakthrough Breast Cancer, who said the following: “This is one of a few studies that suggest working night shifts for many years may increase breast cancer risk. However, we don’t yet know that shift work is a risk factor for breast cancer, so we’d urge women not to panic.

“We need to better understand why night work might increase breast cancer risk. Shift work may lead to unhealthy lifestyle habits that could independently increase the risk of breast cancer, so we’d encourage all women to take part in regular physical activity, maintain a healthy weight and reduce their alcohol intake.”

For more information, please see the Independent or Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Cancer Research UK also wrote an excellent response, looking in detail at the research linking night-shift work and breast cancer after a Danish study was published in May 2012.

Holly Lovering                                                                                                                   11th July 2013