Your treatment and care

The Northern Trust Cancer Services team strive to deliver a high quality, comprehensive and patient-focused service for all cancer patients throughout their care.

The team, of doctors from different specialisms, nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians, occupational therapists and may more are known as the multidisciplinary team. This team is aware of how challenging a cancer diagnosis is and makes every effort to ensure you are supported as much as possible at this difficult time. The Trust strives to ensure each patient diagnosed with cancer receives the best possible care and is treated within the nationally agreed standards.

Managing your cancer

There are several ways to manage your cancer, for example, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

We often use a combination of different treatments to achieve the best possible outcome.

Your cancer treatment

Before patients begin treatment, their consultant will discuss with them the type of treatment they are to have along with the benefits and risks. At this stage patients will be asked to sign a consent form to agree to treatment. This is to ensure they understand the benefits and the risks of their chosen treatment type.

Our multidisciplinary approach means that your team will be able to provide all elements of your treatment to the highest possible standard.

The Northern Trust Cancer Services offers the following treatments:

Surgery

Most surgery is provided within the Northern Trust hospitals however you may be transferred to another Trust, for example, the Belfast Trust, if more specialised surgery is required.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy for Northern Trust cancer patients may be given in Laurel House Chemotherapy Unit at Antrim Area Hospital or in the Belfast City Hospital.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy destroys cancer cells by damaging the DNA within these cells. Although normal cells are also affected by radiation, they are better at repairing themselves than the cancer cells.

Radiotherapy treatment aims to give a high dose of radiation to the cancer, but as low a dose as possible to the surrounding healthy cells. The healthy cells can then recover. This aims to give the highest chance of curing or shrinking the cancer while reducing the risk of side effects for the patient. You may feel anxious about radiotherapy and this is perfectly normal. It can help to talk through any worries you have with your doctor, nurse or radiographer.

All radiotherapy for cancer patients in the Northern Trust is given in the regional Cancer Centre at the Belfast City Hospital.

What to expect from your radiotherapy treatment

The below video has been developed by the radiotherapy staff at the Cancer Centre in Belfast with the support of Friends of the Cancer Centre to provide patients and their families with an insight into what radiotherapy is and what they can expect from treatment in a bid to help aleviate some of the fear that often comes with this type of cancer treatment. The video explains what exactly radiotherapy is as it follows a patient from their arrival to the Cancer Centre, through the planning process and shows what can be expected from treatment itself.

For more information on radiotherapy treatment visit the Belfast Cancer Services website.

Treatment for lymphoedema

Lymphoedemais a long term condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissue, causing pain and preventing people from carrying out everyday activities.

Specialist lymphoedema nurses work with other members of the team, patients and carers, to provide the best care for adult patients who develop lymphoedema secondary following cancer treatment.

The specialist nurses provide advice, information and education for patients, carers and health care professionals.

As lymphoedema is a chronic condition, the aim from the outset is to help you work towards managing your condition. Where this is not possible, programmes of care are adapted and modified according to your changing needs.

For more information on lymphoedema please visit the Lymphoedema Network Northern Ireland (LNNI)

After your treatment

Following treatment which required you to be a patient in the hospital, e.g. for surgery most treatment is given as an outpatient. You will only be admitted to hospital if the nature of your cancer or your treatment makes it impossible for you to remain at home.