Humber, Coast and Vale to pilot new primary care breast pain clinics

Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance is set to pilot new breast pain clinics in the community to help improve, and speed up, breast cancer referral pathways.

During October, which is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Alliance – which is part of the Humber, Coast and Vale Care Partnership – is working with partners, programmes and initiatives to alert people to the early signs of cancer.

In regard to breast cancer, the Alliance says it has seen a 33 per cent increase in “the number of urgent breast cancer referrals between April and July 2021, compared to the same period during 2019/20.”

While this could help it to meet its aim of catching more cancers earlier, the Alliance has also now moved to lessen the burden being placed on NHS trusts as a result. It notes that GPs often refer breast pain patients to a two-week wait pathway to rule out cancer quickly and provide patients with reassurance.

To help with the safe management of NHS breast waiting lists and services, its new breast pain clinics pilot will provide an “alternative service” for those with pain but who also have no other “concerning” potential cancer symptoms. It’s expected that the clinics will be introduced in early 2022.

The clinics will be run by experienced Breast Cancer Advanced Nurse Practitioners and it’s hoped they will help to reduce the number of patients on the two-week wait pathway, as well as improving patient experience through the reduction of “invasive tests”.

Those who are found to have other symptoms will be fast-tracked for secondary care assessment.

The announcement comes as healthcare settings across the UK have moved to help ease the COVID-19-triggered NHS care backlog and to avoid cancer cases being missed early due to the strain on services.

Mid-Nottinghamshire ICS also recently introduced breast pain clinics, while NHS England announced a new £20 million cancer investment package to improve early testing, which includes the use of ‘skin snaps’ to carry out same-day diagnoses.

In other recent breast cancer news, the Breast Cancer Now charity revealed over the summer that it has created a ‘Catalyst Programme’ with the aim of driving innovation in breast cancer research to ‘stop women dying’ from the disease by 2050.