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Specialist nurses set up group to improve care for germ cell cancer

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A small group of specialist nurses have been the driving force behind the creation of a new multi-disciplinary organisation dedicated to improving care for germ cell cancers that affect the testicles and the ovaries.

The National Germ Cell Group will be launched in the spring, following around six years of preparatory work by testicular cancer nurse specialists Paul Hutton and Zoe O’Neill.

The new group is the association of the specialist clinicians, nurses and supporting professionals who treat patients with germ cell cancer in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Germ cell cancer is rare and arises mainly in the testicle, but can present in the mediastinum, retroperitoneum and rarely in women in the ovary.

There are two main types of the disease – seminoma and non-seminomatous germ cell cancer. It is the commonest cancer in young men aged 15-55 years in the UK, though it is relatively rare with 2,500 men diagnosed in 2015.

As a rare cancer in the UK, patients are treated in specialist centres or supra-network centres. There are currently 13 supra-network multi-disciplinary teams in the UK.

National Germ Cell Group

Specialist nurses set up group to improve care for germ cell cancer

Paul Hutton

The group noted that, for most men, testicular cancer was curable, even when it has widely metastasised. But they noted there would be a small proportion of patients with poor prognosis who did not survive the disease.

Mr Hutton Ms O’Neill, who both work in the Midlands, organised the first national meeting of germ cell nurses back in 2012 to share ideas and network.

Following on from this event, Sue Brand, a germ cell specialist nurses in Bristol, organised the next meeting in 2014, together with charity and user groups.

A steering group was then formed comprising of Ms Brand, Ms O’Neill, Mr Hutton, along with Catherine Pettersen from Manchester and Wendy Ansell from London.

The Germ Cell Forum became more formalised and they held their third national meeting in Birmingham in 2016.

National Germ Cell Group

Specialist nurses set up group to improve care for germ cell cancer

Sue Brand

They then decided to ask other clinicians what they thought about forming a wider group and, with the support of four medical experts in the areas, they are now planning their first conference.

The National Germ Cell Group, with Ms Brand as chair, will be launched at the inaugural conference in Aztec Hotel and Spa Bristol on 23 April 2018 with a networking dinner on the evening of 22 April.

The group is aiming to provide a national network for specialist clinicians, nurses and supporting professionals who treat patients with germ cell cancer.

It also wants to provide education and training for all professionals treating those with germ cell cancer, as well as promoting of excellence in care by identifying and sharing best practice.

In addition, it is seeking to promote and support research and the development of more effective treatment and care, and advance awareness of germ cell cancer among clinicians and the public.

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