Cancer care and support
Getting a cancer diagnosis can feel overwhelming and frightening. You might be worried about how treatment will affect different aspects of your life, such as your family, work or money.
From the moment that you are diagnosed with cancer, we give you care and support. This should allow you to live as well as possible during and after your cancer treatment.
The NHS is committed to making sure you get the care and support that is right for you. This is called personalised cancer care.
It means that your cancer care meets your individual needs and focuses on what matters to you.
There are 4 steps to your personalised cancer care:
- Holistic needs assessment (HNA)
- A treatment summary
- Health and wellbeing information and support
- Cancer care review
Personalised cancer care should give you the chance to:
- work in partnership with your doctor and healthcare team, and make decisions together
- understand your options
- increase your knowledge, skills and confidence
- connect with other people or organisations in your community for support
- design your own care plan, which is supported by professionals
- manage, and get support with managing, your personal health budget
We offer you an assessment of your needs with a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) or support worker. This is called an holistic needs assessment (HNA).
The assessment is called holistic because you can talk about any area of your life and how cancer affects it.
An HNA gives you the chance to talk about your needs and for us to find out what matters to you. Your needs might be physical, practical, emotional or social. The HNA helps you think about and prioritise what matters to you, and what you need support with.
You should be offered an HNA soon after your diagnosis and at other important times, such as at the end of a period (phase) of treatment.
You can do the assessment face to face, over the phone, or in your own time by email or text link.
Your CNS or support worker talks through the assessment with you to create a care plan. This plan includes the information and support that you need.
When you reach the end of a period of treatment, you should get a treatment summary. Your treatment summary includes information about:
- your diagnosis
- the treatment that you had
- follow-up arrangements
- possible long-term effects or complications
- signs and symptoms to look out for
- who to get in touch with if you need support or are worried about anything
Your GP also gets a copy of your treatment summary.
Health and wellbeing information and support
It's important that you get support to live as well as possible during and after treatment.
Your CNS, support worker or cancer information centre can help you to find the information and support that you need. This could include help with:
- emotional support and psychological therapies
- coping with side effects
- complementary therapies
- physical wellbeing
- getting advice about money, welfare and benefits
- getting back to work
- making healthy lifestyle choices
Cancer care review
You should get a call from your GP in the first 3 months of being diagnosed. This is to offer help with any needs that you have.
You also have a cancer care review at your GP surgery with the GP or practice nurse. This usually happens in the first 6 to 12 months after your diagnosis.
Your review involves:
- talking about your diagnosis, current needs and any worries that you may have
- planning any extra support that you might need
- reviewing your medicines
- giving you access to other services that you may need, such as counsellors, rehabilitation specialists or social prescribers (people who can connect you to community groups or services for support)
If you have concerns at any time during or after your cancer treatment, you can always contact your GP or practice nurse.
Support with side effects
If you have any side effects from your treatment or feel unwell, please call the acute oncology service on 020 7188 3754.
This service is available 24 hours a day, every day. Calls made outside of Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 6.15pm are directed to the switchboard. The switchboard staff can then contact the on-call doctor.
A healthcare professional explains what you need to do next.
After your treatment, you might be offered a new type of follow-up care. This is called personalised follow-up (PFU).
PFU is sometimes called:
- personalised stratified follow-up (PSFU)
- patient initiated follow-up (PIFU)
- open access follow-up (OAFU)
- supported self-management (SSM)
You do not need to remember all these terms. They are all ways to describe planned care after treatment for cancer. We'll explain how things will work for you.
The follow-up system should reduce the number of outpatient appointments that you come to after you finish your treatment. Your clinical team talk to you about this. If it is a suitable option for you, we might offer you:
- regular surveillance scans or tests (to check that the cancer has not returned), with quicker and easier access to results
- a quick way to get help (including telephone advice and support) from your cancer team again if you are worried about any symptoms, side effects or treatment
- information about any signs and symptoms that may suggest that the cancer has returned
- personalised care and support planning to help you improve your health and wellbeing in the long term
- support to learn information and skills that can help you manage and live with your condition (self-management)
Share your experience
If you want to find out more about personalised cancer care or have not been offered a service described in this information, please talk to your CNS. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, you can contact Dimbleby Cancer Care. They can help you to get the support that you need.
If you’d like to help us develop and improve cancer services across south east London, please email: [email protected]
National Cancer Patient Experience Survey
This survey asks detailed questions about your experiences throughout your cancer treatment. The results are used to improve cancer services. If you get a survey, please complete it to give honest feedback about your experiences.
Quality of life NHS England survey
Quality of life can be about your emotions, social life, money or physical wellbeing. Understanding how cancer affects your life helps to improve our quality of care.
You get a survey from NHS England electronically or by post 18 months after your diagnosis. Please complete this if you can. The survey can also help you to think and talk about your quality of life with your health and social care team.
Resource number: 5165/VER1
Last reviewed: May 2021
Next review: May 2024