The Isle of Wight NHS Trust
Around 1,600 people on the Isle of Wight are diagnosed with cancer each year. It can be one of the most difficult and stressful times in anyone’s life when being told they have some form of cancer, and their families also bear the burden.
We are fortunate that here on the Island, and just across the Solent in Southampton and Portsmouth, there are excellent facilities for the treatment of tumours that can often lead to a full recovery.
Anne Snow is Lead Cancer Nurse for the Isle of Wight NHS Trust at St Mary’s Hospital, Newport, and she emphasises the importance of early diagnosis. The message is loud and clear – if anyone senses they may have the symptoms associated with a cancer then the sooner they visit their GP, the sooner the wheels can be put in motion to begin vital treatment.
Anne said: “We at St Mary’s work with the local campaigns and the national campaigns and at the moment the national campaign centres on breathlessness. If anyone is suffering the condition they should report to their GP so that an appropriate examination can take place, so that any form of lung cancer can be caught quickly.
“But we want any person who has any sign of a cancer or any abnormality – for example a lump in the breast – to report to their GP so they can be referred to us. We see patients in the out patients department within two weeks of the referral. We then aim to complete the diagnostic tests and start any treatment that is needed by Day 62.
‘We are always looking for volunteers to run the support groups’
“I cannot stress enough the importance of recognition and early diagnosis. The sooner treatments take place, if required, then the better chance of recovery.”
Much of the cancer surgery takes place on the Island, although some of the more complex and specialist surgery takes place on the mainland at tertiary specialist centres in Southampton, Portsmouth, or sometimes
further afield. Fortunately, there is an excellent chemotherapy unit at St Mary’s, although radiotherapy takes place at Southampton/Portsmouth.
But travelling to and from the Island is aided by the Wessex Cancer Trust, who have their ‘Daisy Bus’ transport available to and from the cross-Solent ferries to the hospitals in Southampton and Portsmouth.
Anne explained: ”We have established links with the teams at both Southampton and Portsmouth, and we always attempt to maintain contact with our patients while they are going through their treatment on the mainland. We then try to ensure any follow-up treatment is back on the Island.”
A new website, organised by the Breast Care and Support Group at St Mary’s, gives sufferers of breast cancer extremely useful information, and is frequently updated. It also provides information about support groups, and treatments, and other appropriate websites to visit.
Anne continued: “As we move forward we would like support groups of other types of cancer to have similar websites, but that requires more people joining the support groups to take these forward. We are always looking for volunteers to run the support groups and to help other patients. We have information about the support groups in the out-patients department for anyone to pick up.
We have also set up a local Surviving Cancer Information Programme (SCIP) which links with the national cancer survivorship programme and health and wellbeing.
“On completion of treatment patients are given more information by the Cancer Nurse Specialist team. We talk about healthy diets, exercise, the long-term effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and offer psychological support for patients and their families. We are fortunate on the Island to have a clinical psychologist, Dr. Jane Hazeldine, specifically for cancer care, which is not available throughout the country.”
Therefore, in such difficult times patients need to know that with new drugs coming out all the time in the battle against cancers, coupled with excellent treatment, the cancer survival rate continues to improve.
The local IOW Trust Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist team have a charitable funds account to enable ongoing education, courses and equipment – donations can be made to the IOW Charitable funds account number 1049606
Visit iow.nhs.uk for more information