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FIT FOR TREATMENT? Health advice given to women with breast cancer

I Grants Graphic

Professor Michael Lewis, Swansea University
Start date: April 2019
Duration: 24 months 
Funded amount: £30,000


Greater public awareness of breast cancer, combined with more effective screening and treatment, means that women now have a very high likelihood of surviving breast cancer. However, treatment for breast cancer can also be harmful to patients – and this goes beyond the short-term side-effects that most people associate with treatment (such as nausea, anaemia and infections). Some types of breast cancer treatment can in fact cause long-term or even permanent damage: it can damage the patient’s heart, reduce their physical ‘fitness’ and ability to carry out daily activities, reduce the strength of their bones and alter the amount of fat and muscle in their body.

At present we don’t know how many patients are affected by these side-effects because they are not routinely assessed. Nevertheless, even if the number of patients affected is low, we believe it is important that all patients (and healthcare professionals) are aware that such problems can occur. Patients currently receive little (if any) information about these, and we plan to address this shortcoming in the proposed study.

We plan to ask women with breast cancer (or women who have been treated for breast cancer previously) about the information they received regarding their treatment, and in particular whether they were told about the possible long-term side-effects. We also want to ask their views on the types of information and support they would like to have received so that we can design a better, patient-centred information resource for breast cancer patients and health professionals.