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Sunday 25 September 2016 Instagram
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Not enough time to answer all your patients’ questions?

Not enough time to answer all your patients’ questions?

Cancerbackup can help. As the UK's leading cancer information charity, Cancerbackup can give the time to support your cancer patients and their loved ones, and answer any of the questions you might not have the time or the privacy to do. Cancerbackup also provides useful information and updates for health professionals as you can see below.

A diagnosis of cancer and the cascade of events that follow can cause much fear and anxiety, and involves a whole new vocabulary for those affected. Amid the confusion and information overload, people often don't know the right questions to ask. The cancer specialist nurses that run Cancerbackup's helpline 0808 800 1234 (Mon-Fri, 9am-8pm) and email service info@cancerbackup.org will answer any question on any cancer. They are all experienced cancer nurses who have been there on the wards. They know how little time there can be to spend talking with patients and their families about some of the tougher issues.

Last year Cancerbackup helped over 70,000 people. Its nurses regularly provide information on anything from treatment side-effects to the latest available research on a rare cancer.

Around one-third of the enquiries that Cancerbackup receives are from relatives or friends of people with cancer. A lot of people come to Cancerbackup with questions about prognosis as this can be particularly hard to ask at a clinic or consultation, especially if a partner or family member present might not want to know. Relatives can find issues around prognosis hard to address at appointments as they don't usually get a chance to see the doctor alone and may not be able to ask in front of their loved one. At Cancerbackup we can talk through issues around prognosis sensitively and put frightening statistics into context for both patients and their family members.

More and more people are finding email a helpful way of getting cancer questions answered. Sending an email is quick, private and can be sent at any time of the day or night. Cancerbackup's email enquiry service is growing rapidly. Currently nurses respond to around 400 emails each month and 95% are answered within one working day. The charity's nurses are specifically trained in providing written replies by email. The key skill is often to interpret what the information needs of the enquirer are as much as being able to reply in a way that is sensitive and easily understood.

The charity's award-winning website www.cancerbackup.org.uk has over 5,500 pages of cancer information including over 1,000 Q&As. It receives over 400,000 unique visitors a month from people affected by cancer, but also from nurses looking at the latest news, treatment guidelines and discussion topics on the health professional section www.cancerbackup.org.uk/Healthprofessionals.

The advantage of the website is that people can access it at any time and find answers to their questions, as Patricia Springbett, a woman Cancerbackup recently helped told us:

"It is 4 am and I am awake, looking up answers to my questions online. My 25-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with breast cancer… This website is wonderful; to be able to tell somebody who understands about this is a great relief to me. So, Cancerbackup - thank you!"

A recent study showed that patients gain support through online forums where they can interact with people in similar situations.(1) Cancerbackup's What Now? website www.whatnow.org.uk has an active discussion forum where people share their experiences and support each other. The What Now? campaign website uses a fictional family to engage people in the different issues that families affected by cancer experience during their cancer journey. Previous topics have included body image and the myths around cancer and genetics. This month the campaign is focusing on the importance of being informed about the potential effects of cancer treatment on fertility.

For your patients who are not online or who also want booklets Cancerbackup provides over 70 booklets and 300 factsheets available free to patients, their families and friends. They can be ordered by calling 0808 800 1234 or online at www.cancerbackup.org.uk.

If you are interested in a career at Cancerbackup, please visit: www.cancerbackup.org.uk/Aboutus/Vacancies

Reference
1. Shaw B. How women with breast cancer learn using interactive cancer communication systems. Health Educ Res 2007;22:108-19.

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