Surgical Services

Breast Cancer Services

This pages provides general information to help to support you during your treatment and specific information about the cancer team who will be looking after you.


Who is responsible for my care?Show [+]Hide [-]

There are many people who are involved with your care. The investigation, care and treatment of your cancer will be undertaken by a group of doctors and other professionals with expertise in the specific type of cancer you have.

This specialist group of professionals is known as a Multi Disciplinary Team (MDT).

The MDT usually consists of the following people.

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) - A senior nurse who usually takes responsibility for coordinating your care and providing you with information, advice and support. The nurse is often referred to as a ‘key worker’ and is therefore your link to the MDT.
  • Surgeon – A doctor who uses surgery to treat cancer
  • Physician – A doctor who uses medicine to treat cancer
  • Histopathologist – A doctor who examines cells or tissue samples under the microscope
  • Radiologist - A doctor who reads x-rays and scans. They may also perform investigations or procedures.
  • Oncologists - A cancer doctor who often uses chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to treat cancer.

Depending on your individual needs, other healthcare professionals (HCPs) may also be part of the team, such as a psychologist (a professional who specialises in exploring the mind and behaviour), palliative care doctor/nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, radiographer, dietitian, speech and language therapist and social workers. Your actual MDT members are listed in the sheet that accompanies this leaflet.

What is a Multi-Disciplinary Team Meeting? 

Your team meets regularly and during their MDT meetings (MDM) they discuss what further tests you may need, which treatment or treatments (if there is more than one choice) would be best for you and they also decide if it would be useful to involve any other professionals in your care.

How will I be involved in decisions about my treatment?

You will normally be given an appointment to come back to the hospital to discuss the outcome of the MDT meeting. During this appointment the staff will involve you in deciding which treatment plan is best for you. Once you have decided on your treatment plan, you will be offered the opportunity to receive some written information, often in the form of a copy letter, which summarises these discussions. You do not have to accept a copy of this information if you do NHS Foundation Trust not want it. Your GP will also be sent a copy of this information.

If you have not been given an appointment, or if you are in any way uncertain about your treatment options or plan, then please do not hesitate to contact your CNS/Key Worker.

Is there anything I can do to help myself?Show [+]Hide [-]

Your emotional and physical wellbeing is important and everyone needs some support during difficult times. Talking about your fears or concerns with friends, family, members of the MDT or support organisations can sometimes help you to cope.

Try to eat a well balanced diet, maintain a normal body weight and keeping as active as you can. If you are a smoker, giving up smoking is the best thing that you can do to help yourself. It is important that smokers try to stop smoking as soon as they can. Studies have shown (National Cancer Institute 2010) that people with cancer who continue to smoke:

  • Experience more severe treatment related side effects which often last for longer than usual.
  • Reduce how successful radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone treatments are in damaging cancer cells and getting rid of, or reducing the size of, a person’s cancer.
  • Increase their risk of developing a second cancer at the same or at another site.
  • Can make existing health problems worse.

Smokers are four times more likely to stop smoking if they do it with the help of the NHS and nicotine replacement therapy is often free for people with cancer. Any member of staff within the hospital can give information and advice about smoking cessation and there are many smoking cessation services available in local chemists and at GP practices.

NHS Choices also provides a wide range of products to help people stop smoking eg quit kits, information leaflets etc.

Your CNS or any member of the MDT can give you more information about the specific benefits of trying to keep healthy, active and stopping smoking in relation to your type of cancer.

More information

The professionals that are involved in your care will provide you with verbal and written information throughout your treatment. Your CNS/Key worker should normally be your first point of contact if you need information about your care.

Cancer can affect many areas of your and your family’s life, both during and after treatment such as finances, work, emotions and relationships. If you don’t understand something about your cancer or your treatment or if you or your family need any additional information, advice or support it is important to ask.

Macmillan Cancer Support provides free, high quality information, advice and support to patients, carers and family members:

  • Tel: 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 8.00pm)
  • Deaf/hard of hearing can use their textphone service on 0808 808 0121, or the Text Relay system
  • Their website has a wide selection of information which includes an online community where you and/or your family can talk to people who have a better understanding of how you may be feeling. You can also email one of their specialists if you would prefer not to talk to someone directly. Macmillan Cancer Care website.

Macmillan Cancer Information Centres that are run by a manager and a number of volunteers. These can be found in many of the hospitals within the North of England. The Newcastle Information Centre can be found beside the outpatients department within the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at Freeman Hospital.

Anyone affected by cancer can also contact Cancer Research UK.

There are a number of specific resources for young people who have a family member who has cancer. Please ask your CNS, the Macmillan Cancer Manager or a member of the hospital team for this information.

Local support groups/organisations 

If you or any members of your family would like to talk to someone outside of normal working hours you can contact any of these 24 hour services:

Where can I find information about the help or support that may be available to me and my family when I am at home?

If you feel that you or your family need any additional help or support at home then please feel free to discuss this with your CNS/Key Worker or your GP. These people are usually aware of other professionals or services that are available in your local area.

Where can I find information about financial help?

Many people find a diagnosis of cancer can bring money worries. The majority of people who are diagnosed with cancer who need ongoing treatment do not have to pay prescription charges. If you are eligible for free prescriptions you will normally be given this information by a member of your MDT.

A Social Worker or Benefits Adviser can offer advice and information on benefits, tax credits, grants, loans and resolve any legal, money or other financial or social problems. You can speak with a Benefits Advisor via your local Citizens Advice Bureau or there is one available within the Newcastle Macmillan Cancer Information Centre. Please ask your CNS or any member of the MDT if you would like information about free prescriptions or if you would like to speak with one of the hospital social workers.

Leaflet to download

You can download the information on this page as a PDF leaflet.pdf

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