Our latest Medicine for Members’ event shone a light on the crucial work of our breast screening and cancer teams in the fight against the disease – catch up here now.

Opening the event, Jane Gizbert, elected public governor, explained that cancer care is a key pillar of our trust’s clinical strategy and that we are one of the largest cancer services in the NHS, receiving almost 50,000 referrals every year.

She also thanked the Royal Free Charity and their generous donors for the support they continue to provide, which has helps us improve the care we can offer our cancer patients as well as ensure our clinicians have access to the latest equipment and technology.

Our first speaker of the evening, Claire Mabena, lead breast care nurse for the North London Breast Screening Service (NLBSS) and the Central and East London Breast screening service (CELBSS), explained that breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK with over 55,000 cases diagnosed each year, but it can be easily treatable with 76% of those surviving their diagnosis.

Claire emphasised that regular breast screening is key in improving this. She said: “Screening helps by finding changes that are far too small to see or to feel. This means that we can pick breast cancers up at a very early stage when they are more easily treatable.”

Next, Judy King, consultant medical oncologist and clinical service lead for oncology and palliative care, spoke about some of the ground-breaking breast cancer research being carried out at the trust. This included the A BRAVE clinical trial, which tested the effects of a new drug, Avelumab, on patients whose cancer is not completely treated with chemotherapy.

A Royal Free London patient was the first in the country to be entered into this trial and the results have shown that the drug gives patients a better overall chance of survival.

Final speaker of the evening, Cathy McDaid, lead nurse for breast oncology, discussed the important role patient experience plays in achieving our goal of providing world class care. She said: “It is really important that we recognise that our patients are not just patients, they are people with lives outside of our clinics and we need to make sure that we know how their diagnosis and their treatment is going to affect them as a person”.

Cathy explained that all of our breast cancer patients can have a holistic needs assessment, which helps ensure we offer personalised care. She said, “when we are talking to our patients about what support they need, it’s not the same for everyone. So, we have a conversation with them and focus on the support they need as an individual”.

Cathy continued by emphasising that we can’t offer all the support our patients need within a hospital setting and shared information about some of the incredible charities we work closely with including Macmillan Cancer Support and Maggie’s.

Medicine for Members’ events are hosted by our governors and focus on topics which are important to patients, staff and the local community. You can find out more about Medicine for Members' events here.

We hope you can join us at future Medicine for Members’ events.