A NEW service is being provided at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals, to care for patients who have advanced cancer but the exact type cannot be identified. This is known as cancer of unknown primary (CUP). In England and Wales, more than 10,000 cases of CUP occur annually and it is the fourth most common cause of cancer death.
People with suspected cancer are referred to the Trust by their GP for cancer investigations and treatment. Once diagnosed, patients usually receive care and support from a dedicated team that specialises in the particular type of cancer they have, such as skin, lung or bowel.
Until now there has not been one specialist team to oversee the care of CUP patients, because their cancer has advanced and it is not possible to identify where in the body it originated. Now the new CUP service, with a dedicated cancer nurse specialist, is providing these patients with continuity of care and support.
Katy Low (left) and Charlotte Street, Cancer Services Team Leader
Katy Low, Cancer of the Unknown Primary (CUP) clinical nurse specialist, explains: “The Trust is one of only a few in the country to have a dedicated CUP nurse. “Before now, these patients could find themselves passed between services for their secondary cancer symptoms to be treated without one team overseeing their care. This meant that patients could miss out on vital support.
“My role as a CUP nurse is to provide information, advice and support to patients and their families as well as appointment coordination, symptom control and psychological support.
“Although the patients we see have secondary cancer, there are treatment options that can still be considered that may improve their quality of life and control symptoms. Unfortunately for some people with advanced cancer, treatment is not an option. I work closely with the Macmillan team to provide end of life support for these patients and their families.”
The CUP service at Basildon Hospital will link with other cancer services in the Trust, and in neighbouring hospitals. This will ensure clinicians can work together to give patients a high standard of care.