Charity praises breast cancer care

A SUFFOLK charity has paid tribute to breast cancer care at one of the region’s leading hospitals, following the announcement that death rates from the disease have fallen faster in the UK than any other major European country.

Ipswich Hospital was one of 11 places to pilot the Breakthrough Breast Cancer service pledge to respond directly to the concerns of local people battling the disease. The scheme is now being rolled out to 90 areas across the UK.

The service pledge sets out certain standards for care, including that patients can always have a friend or relative present during any tests or procedures or when discussing treatment options, that they should get financial support where needed, and can have the choice of a male or female surgeon.

Gina Long, of Fornham St Martin, is one of the founders of the Suffolk branch of Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Mrs Long said: “We are very lucky that Ipswich Hospital has signed up to give the people of Suffolk the service pledge.

“People often tell us they are delighted that the treatment is so thorough, and we have all sorts of supporters who have gone through a lot of breast cancer treatment here.

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“The fact that our local hospital has undertaken to work with the service pledge has given people a greater peace of mind. They really do think it is important that the depth of care and the attention to detail is so great.

“I think it is crucial that the people of Suffolk know that if they are diagnosed with breast cancer, their level of care will be excellent.”

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Ipswich Hospital helped pioneer the service pledge in 2004, and has since renewed its commitment to the scheme in 2008 and again this year.

Every year, around 450 women in Suffolk are diagnosed with breast cancer and 125 of them go on to die from the disease.

But a study published online in the British Medical Journal yesterday found death rates from breast cancer across England and Wales have fallen by 35 per cent since the 1980s, largely because of better awareness and earlier diagnosis.

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