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Supporting breast cancer patients

The color of October is definitely pink. All over the world, people are joining forces to increase breast cancer awareness. Early detection, education and support services are crucial for those affected by the disease. Thanks to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options – breast cancer is becoming highly treatable. According to statistics, when breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99%.

No one should face breast cancer alone. Nurses and doctors are often in a leading role of guiding and supporting the patient throughout demanding treatments and recovery. Anita Gutierrez, Nurse specialized with Master in Oncological Nursing and Leading Nurse by Radiotherapy Hirslanden Switzerland, has been taking care of the breast cancer patients for more than 20 years:

”The greatest wish of the patients is a complete cure. They are also concerned about the possible negative symptoms of the treatments, and want to know what to do if the symptoms occur. Our goal is to reduce these undesirable symptoms to the minimum. We follow-up and control the patients regularly, and treat the occurring symptoms. Furthermore, we educate the patients on how to cope with the symptoms themselves. The promotion of self-management helps the patients to maintain their independence at home.

Even though breast cancer patients are often quite well informed, individual guidance is needed. Patients wish to know exactly what can happen during or after their therapy.”

Reducing anxiety and fear during treatment and recovery

According to Mrs Gutierrez, standardized adverse symptoms assessment is a prerequisite for individual care and support at Hirslanden. Kaiku® Health has been used since 2013 to digitally follow-up on treatment outcomes and patients’ quality of life at Hirslanden radiotherapy clinics in Aarau, Zürich, Männedorf and Lausanne.

“The best support for the patients is to obtain clear and comprehensive information, and timely support from the medical staff. Kaiku Health complements our individual support, by providing the medical team with important information about patients’ concerns and feedback in a written format.

With Kaiku Health, our patients have better understanding on which stage of the treatment path they are, and they can send us notes about changes in their condition wherever and whenever they want to. This way we always know how the patient feels and can react to symptoms early on.

As a first thing in the morning we sign in to Kaiku Health and take 15 minutes to respond and react to patients’ messages. Breast cancer patients, for example, might get skin reactions during their therapy, and timely advice can help to relieve the itch and skin condition. Sometimes after all controls, a patient might report pain under breast or other late adverse symptoms. In these cases we can guide them directly to a gynecologist or other specialists.

In the beginning of applying the digital follow-up we were a bit afraid that we would lose the personal contact to our patients. Our experience has been quite the opposite: We now talk more openly about the problems and worries that patients have. It seems like patients have more courage to ask for advice in digital environment. Every question is OK at Kaiku.”

 

Statistics: American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2016. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2016. , Stewart, B. and Wild, C.P. (eds.), International Agency for Research on Cancer, WHO (2014) World Cancer Report 2014.

Written by Noora Kykkänen, Head of Communications at Netmedi

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