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Nursing Times' clinical editor, Emma White, discusses international cancer research

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VOL: 98, ISSUE: 35, PAGE NO: 31

Cancer is a global problem that does not recognise national or international boundaries, but cancer treatments are governed by these boundaries - as the 12th International Conference on Cancer Nursing, taking place in London this week, acknowledges.
Cancer is a global problem that does not recognise national or international boundaries, but cancer treatments are governed by these boundaries - as the 12th International Conference on Cancer Nursing, taking place in London this week, acknowledges.


Treatments that are considered standard in the USA are still offered in the UK only as part of randomised clinical trials and only in certain hospitals. And in the developing world, by the time many patients present palliation is the only available option.


Worldwide collaboration in the research and treatment of cancer has started but more needs to be done. The number of international clinical trials must be increased and a concerted effort to pressurise governments for equitable funding for research and treatment is essential.


Most UK research funding comes from charities. It should be more than matched by government funding. Charities such as the Association for International Cancer Research recognise the importance of international collaboration in developing knowledge and treatments.


With the explosion in information available on the internet, patients can find out about cancer treatments around the world. This may create an ethical dilemma for nurses, who want their patients to be offered the best treatment and feel uncomfortable when patients ask what that is. They may have to reply that in a particular hospital a certain treatment is best, knowing that in another part of the country, or in another country, better treatments are available.


Documents that set standards for clinical care have improved patients' chances of receiving equitable treatment. Smith (p32) describes a model used to set standards for cancer care in Scotland, making it possible to measure whether trusts meet these standards. Peer review visits take place across England to monitor standards and support any necessary improvements.


Treatments for cancer are not only about physical interventions but also about psychological and social care. This is where nurses can have a huge impact: they can improve a patient's entire experience of care.


Pattison and MacRae describe (p34) a nurse-led service that has enabled patients to be given chemotherapy at home, avoiding the inconvenience of hospital visits and enabling patients to carry on working. The more these services are developed the better patient care will be.n


- See the Association for International Cancer Research's website at: www.aicr.org.uk
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