North East and North Cumbria Breast Pain Pathway

Earlier this year the Northern Cancer Alliance (NCA) Clinical Director for Primary Care, Dr Katie Elliot asked the Managed Clinical Network for Breast Cancer (MCN) to review a breast pain pilot being run in the East Midlands.

The information and data from the East Midlands pilot showed positive outcomes for patients and hospitals in areas that had adopted this new treatment pathway for breast pain. Contrary to popular belief, breast pain alone is not a symptom of breast cancer but is a common issue, with about 70% of the female population experiencing breast pain during their lifetime.

The MCN brought together a Task & Finish group comprising of clinical experts from across the North East and North Cumbria (NENC) to review existing breast pain pathways (BPP) and decide whether the NENC should implement a BPP.

Through a series of meetings the Task &Finish group developed a NENC specific pathway taking the learning from the East Midlands and a similar pathway run in Greater Manchester. The end product being the NENC Breast Pain Pathway, a pathway specifically for women with breast pain only delivered in secondary care after a period of symptom management in primary care.

This new pathway will help women identify the best treatment options for their breast pain and also, if applicable, provide onward referral to the NENC Genetics service and/or the Breast Pain Clinics at Northumbria, Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tees Hospitals.

Matei Dordea, Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, NCA Clinical Lead for the Breast Managed Clinical Network said: “The Breast Pain Pathway is a refinement of the Breast Referral pathway to secondary care allowing a significant proportion of patients with a low risk of presenting with a breast cancer to be seen in a dedicated clinic. The Breast Pain Clinic will focus on natural history of breast pain, family history and counselling. It may take place in a non-cancer setting (away from the often busy one stop clinic). This has been shown to reduce cancer related patient anxiety and increase patient satisfaction.”

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