On the pulse 27 June 2014

  • A lymphoedema focus for June’s Patient Support Group
  • New study finds breast cancer screening reduces mortality rates by 28%

A lymphoedema focus for June’s Patient Support Group
It was standing room only on Thursday 26 June at the Patient Support Group when Mr Santilal Parbhoo MB ChB PhD FRCS (Founder and President of Cancerkin) gave a talk on ‘Lymphoedema in Breast Cancer Patients’. He explained what lymphoedema is and how it comes about, illustrating his points with vivid photos of examples of lymphoedema. He then moved on to its treatment emphasising that, while the treatments provided at Cancerkin’s Lymphoedema Clinic were important, their effectiveness depended on the patient’s willingness to do the relevant exercises three times a day and pay special attention to their diet to maintain a healthy weight. The talk was followed by a lively question and answer session. There was general agreement that the talk was very informative and helpful.

Our CanExercise teacher Lizzy Davis, a former Oncology/Palliative Care Nurse, then followed to discuss how important exercise can be in helping lymphatic fluid to move throughout the body and how muscles can help move the lymph away from the affected area. She reiterated that being informed about what is safe and effective is key to managing or reducing your risk of developing lymphoedema – including avoiding anti-inflammatory foods (such as junk foods), ensuring you wash and moisturise your body and avoiding extremes such as really hot and really cold environments.  Finally, we all practised some deep breathing and strength training exercises which should be regularly performed to help manage or prevent lymphoedema.

Everyone at Cancerkin would like to say a very special “thank you” to Mr Parbhoo and Lizzie for taking the time to speak to everyone. This was an incredibly busy patient support group, and everyone spoken to really appreciated the detailed information and practical advice given.

New study finds breast cancer screening reduces mortality rates by 28%
A new study, published on BMJ Online, has found breast cancer screening prevents one death in every 368 women who are invited for screening.

Researchers analysed data from all women in Norway who were aged 50 to 79 between 1986 and 2009 – the period in which their mammography screening programme was gradually introduced. This allowed them to compare the breast cancer mortality rate among those who were invited to screening every two years against those who were not yet invited.

After adjusting for various factors such as age, area of residence, and underlying trends in breast cancer mortality, the researchers estimated that invitation to screening was associated with 28% reduced risk of death from breast cancer. They also found that approximately 76% of women who were offered a mammogram actually got one.

The effectiveness of breast cancer screening programmes remains contentious. In 2012, the Independent Breast Screening Review published their findings on the effectiveness of breast screening in the UK, but new studies (such as this one published in February) continue to add to the debate.

One of the authors of this study, Lars Vatten, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, acknowledged this, warning: “Mammograms do provide some benefit, but the problem is the screening is so sensitive it captures tumours without malignant potential”.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Campaign, agreed: “This study adds to existing evidence that breast screening saves lives. Diagnosing breast cancer quickly is vital, as the earlier breast cancer is diagnosed and treated, the greater the chances of survival.

“An independent review on breast screening in 2012 concluded that breast screening does save lives but also noted the risk of overdiagnosis as a result of screening. It’s therefore welcome that women are now receiving more detailed information in the form of the new breast screening leaflet to support them to make an informed decision about whether to attend screening.

For more information, please see Yahoo News Online or Breast Cancer Campaign.

On the pulse 20 June 2014

  • Mr Santilal Parbhoo will speak at June’s Patient Support Group
  • Only a quarter of British people realise that the UK’s five-year survival rate for breast cancer is below the European average

Mr Santilal Parbhoo will speak at June’s Patient Support Group
We are very excited to announce that Mr Santilal Parbhoo MB ChB PhD FRCS, President and Founder of Cancerkin, will deliver a talk entitled ‘Lymphoedema in Breast Cancer Patients’ at our next Patient Support Group. This talk will take place on Thursday 26June 2014 at 11.30am – 12.30pm. He will explain what lymphoedema is, before discussing what you can do to avoid or manage this condition.

Mr Parbhoo was a Consultant Surgeon and Senior Lecturer and was Chairman of the Division of Surgery at the Royal Free Hospital (1987-1989) and Chairman of the Board of Surgical Studies (1984-1991). He founded Cancerkin in 1987. He is also a founder member of the Ludwig International Breast Cancer Study Group, a NATO International Research Travelling Fellow and was a member of various committees associated with the UK Breast Screening Programme.

It is sure to be a popular and interesting talk so please contact Reema by phone (0207 830 2323) or email (r.ved@cancerkin.org.uk) to book your place. We look forward to seeing you there.

Only a quarter of British people realise that the UK’s five-year survival rate for breast cancer is below the European average
A survey conducted by Breast Cancer Campaign has found that only a quarter of people in Britain were aware the UK breast cancer survival rate is worse than the European average.

In the UK, 79% of women diagnosed with breast cancer will survive for five years or more. This is below than the European average (82%) and far behind many of our European neighbours, including France, Germany and Italy. However, only 26% of people questioned realised this, with 46% of people believing the UK five-year survival rate to be similar to, or better than the European average. In fact, 87% of respondents believed the UK’s five-year survival rate to be better than or similar to Portugal’s, when in reality the UK is worse.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Campaign, said: “People will be surprised that the UK lags so far behind our European neighbours and will realise that much more must be done to improve survival rates. We need to have ambitions and targets for breast cancer survival that take us to being amongst the best in Europe – aiming for average is not good enough.

“While we have made significant progress, we’re in real danger of losing momentum before the job is done. The effect of breast cancer on those living with the disease cannot be underestimated and with 12,000 women still dying every year in the UK, we cannot afford to forget about the disease. Our campaign has been launched to ensure we continue the fight against breast cancer. We must show unrelenting momentum if more women are to outlive and overcome breast cancer in the future.”

Mr Sean Duffy, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England, added: “More women in the UK are surviving breast cancer due to better public awareness and screening, faster diagnosis and improved treatments. But we can’t take our eye of the ball, and there is still much more to do. Awareness raising is absolutely key and we welcome this important piece of work.”

For more information, please see Breast Cancer Campaign.

On the pulse 13 June 2014

  • A walk on the Heath
  • Study shows that many breast cancer patients do not do enough exercise during and after treatment

A walk on the Heath
On Sunday 8th June we were joined by over 200 Cancerkin supporters  for a walk across Hampstead Heath in support of those with breast cancer. It really was a fantastic day full of smiles and laughter – and some truly excellent weather! As it was our first walk on the Heath we were delighted it went so well.

We couldn’t have organised such an enjoyable day without the help of lots of people. We would like to say a big “thank you” to our sponsors, Ocean Spray and the Finchley Road Sainsbury’s, who provided delicious (and much needed!) refreshments; to London Overground for displaying our posters about the walk at Hampstead Heath station; to our fantastic team of volunteers who made the day such a success; to Lizzie, who ran such a great warm-up and, of course, to all our walkers (pets included!) whose enthusiasm made the day.

We would like to say a special thank you to David Bishop, a Royal Free photographer who kindly covers so many of our events and promotions. The photos he took of the fun are now on our website and facebook group, so take a look and try to spot your photo.

If you successfully completed the walk, you will now be busy collecting up your sponsorship money. We are delighted that Floris, Perfumers to HM The Queen Elizabeth II, have so generously donated luxury prizes for the top three fundraisers. To be in with a chance of winning, your sponsorship money must be at the Cancerkin Centre by Friday 16th August. On this day, we will count up how much has been raised in total and announce our winners.

Any funds collected by hand can either be brought in person to the Cancerkin Centre or sent in the post (our address is Cancerkin Centre, Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street, London, NW3 2QG).However, please do ensure that: a) your envelope is addressed to Holly Lovering and includes your sponsorship form with your name clearly marked; b) you do not send cash in the post; and c) any cheques are made payable to Cancerkin.

If you have any comments or questions, then please do contact me by emailing h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk or calling 020 7830 2323.

Study shows that many breast cancer patients do not do enough exercise during and after treatment
A study by US researchers and published in Cancer has shown that exercise can help with recovery after breast cancer – but many women do not do enough.

Physical activity after treatment for breast cancer has been linked with prolonged survival and improved quality of life, with mortality rate being reduced by 34% after breast cancer diagnosis for individuals with higher levels of reported physical activity compared to those with the least amount of physical activity.

This study compared the pre- and post-diagnosis exercise levels of 1,735 women aged between 20 and 74 from North Carolina, who had had breast cancer between 2008 and 2011. In both the US and the UK, women are recommended to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity. However, the study found that only 35% of the women in the study met these guidelines, with 59% participants reported a decline in physical activity after their diagnosis. However, approximately 1 in 5 women did increase their activity levels by at least 30 minutes per week after being diagnosed with breast cancer. The researchers concluded that more needed to be done to promote and encourage participation in physical activity to breast cancer patients during and after treatment.

UK breast cancer groups have said that women here also need more support to keep active after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Caroline Dalton, of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “Physical activity after a breast cancer diagnosis has been shown to improve a patient’s chances of survival and there is also some evidence that it may help to reduce the risk of breast cancer returning.

“Keeping active may also help patients cope, both during and after treatment, by improving general health and wellbeing.

“Although this study was conducted in America rather than the UK, the results suggest that women who have received a breast cancer diagnosis need better support to keep active.

“There are no specific guidelines in place at the moment to tell us precisely how much physical activity is needed after a breast cancer diagnosis, but Breakthrough Breast Cancer suggests aiming for 3.5 hours per week, after checking with your treatment team to see what is appropriate for you.”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Campaign, said: “This study serves as a reminder of how important it is that women with breast cancer are made aware that physical activity can improve their chances of survival.

“Recent research has shown that even small increases to the amount of exercise done after a breast cancer diagnosis can give women a better chance of survival.

“This is why it is essential that women are given a clear written follow-up care plan, which should include practical advice about diet and exercise.”

For more information please visit BBC News or Medical News Today.

Cancerkin runs an exercise class, CanExercise, at 4.15pm on Tuesdays which is specifically designed to help women back into exercise after breast cancer treatment. We also run a dance and laughter yoga class, Dance Yourself Happy as well as Tai Chi, yoga and Pilates classes. For more information on, or to join, any of these groups please contact Reema on 0207 830 2323 or email r.ved@cancerkin.org.uk.