Cervical cancer patients are not being given the necessary support to cope with the side-effects of treatment according to a new report by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
The charity carried out in-depth interviews with 35 patients to raise awareness of the different experiences of cervical cancer patients and highlight ways in which diagnosis, treatment and care can be improved.
Three-quarters said their clinical nurse specialist was important to them. However almost half (47%) wished they had more contact with theirs, sometimes citing nurses being too busy, overworked or feeling they were being an inconvenience by getting in contact.
‘The support patients receive from clinical nurse specialists cannot be understated and we want to ensure even more women can fully benefit from the amazing cancer nurses that are out there,’ said Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
Following the report, the charity is calling for each patient to be introduced to their clinical nurse specialist as soon as possible and briefed on the care the nurse can provide and how to contact them.
The interviewees also reported that there was a lack of information and support available to cope with the emotional, physical and psychological side effects of treatment with many suffering unexpected side-effects or finding them far more debilitating than anticipated.
Every participant said relationships with partners, family and children had changed as a result of their diagnosis and subsequent treatment with almost two-thirds reporting intimate relationships being affected by the disease. The impact on relationships with children; finances; changes to, or loss of fertility; and the onset of early menopause were also areas many reported.
Mr Music added that for many women receiving the ‘all-clear’ does not mean the end of the journey.
Professor Lesley Regan, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: ‘The findings of this report highlight the clear need for all women with gynaecological cancers, including cervical cancer, to be offered adequate support tailored to their needs.
‘As healthcare professionals, working in multi-disciplinary teams, we must treat the woman as an individual, not an illness or a symptom, and adopt a holistic approach to her care.’
The charity launched the report at the end of Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month in September.