About the service
The Breast Care Nurses (BCN) provide expert advice and guidance on breast cancer, benign breast conditions, breast screening, treatment options as well as practical information and support. They are available for advice, information or psychological support at any time during the patient’s journey.
The BCN team are based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead, however they also provide services in Sunderland and South Tyneside.
The BCNs are committed to providing you with the best possible holistic care and ensure they meet both local and national guidelines. The team works constantly to improve the service we provide in response to patients’ comments and take part in local and national patient audits.
About the Breast Care Nurses
The BCNs contribute to planning and delivering education locally and nationally, promote evidence based holistic care and regularly monitor the services they provide by compiling regular local patient questionnaires and take part in the national cancer patient survey. The BCNs work closely with other support services, local charities, psychology services, GPs, chemotherapy units, oncology service and Macmillan.
Services we offer
One stop diagnostic breast clinics
If you have been referred to a breast clinic by your GP with a problem, you will be seen in one of our one stop breast clinics by either a breast surgeon, a training doctor, nurse consultant or specialist breast care nurse. They will examine you and may organise for you to have some imaging such as mammogram (x-ray of the breast) and/or an ultrasound scan. Sometimes the radiologist with take a biopsy to gain more information. The majority of people that come to our breast clinics, following appropriate investigations, are able to be reassured that the cause for their breast symptom is benign (harmless). Some people will, after scans and biopsies, be diagnosed with a breast cancer. If this is the case, we will help explain and guide you through your diagnosis and treatment options, the BCN will be there to help support you.
We have created a series of podcasts offering advice and support that patients can access at their own leisure. A podcast is a radio program that is stored in a digital form that you can download from the internet and play. You can access our podcasts on YouTube.
Screening assessment clinics
Following your NHS breast screening mammogram (x-ray of the breast) you may be asked to attend a screening assessment clinic for further investigation. During this appointment you will meet one of the breast care nurses who will ask you some questions about your health and explain the reason you have been recalled for assessment. Some ladies will require further imaging at this appointment which may include another mammogram and/or ultrasound scan. Sometimes the radiologist will take a biopsy to gain more information. The BCN will be available during this appointment to help support you. Should you have any questions or concerns about this clinic you can contact Lynn Pounder on 0191 445 3722.
Oncology advice/ support
Some of our BCNs work closely with the oncologists in their clinic. They are there to provide advice and support on an individual basis, this may include issues relating to secondary breast cancer, psychological support and finances. If you have any questions or concerns relating to this please contact Christine Cavanagh on 0191 445 8353.
Some patients develop lymphoedema of the upper limbs and/or breast following cancer surgery and/or treatment. Your BCN can refer you for assessment in our nurse led lymphoedema clinic. We will carry out an assessment of your symptoms and recommend the appropriate treatment. This may include a compression garment, mobiderm dressing, kinesio taping and simple lymphatic drainage. Should you have any questions or concerns please contact Rachel Lockerbie on 0191 445 6726 or Nealy Tate on 0191 445 2149.
Wound care/seroma drainage
Reconstruction can take place immediately or as a delayed procedure. Your breast consultant will discuss which option may be more appropriate for you. Decisions are individualised and are made based on your general fitness, the type of breast cancer you have and the further treatment you may require. Your breast surgeon and BCN will discuss in detail the types of reconstruction available to you and provide you with information to help guide and support you in your decision.
- Nipple tattooing
- Acupuncture service
- Prosthetic service
- Health promotion
Virtual Wellness Clinic
This is a virtual clinic offered to our breast cancer patients, this clinic is accessed via TEAMS on the computer rather than a face to face session and there is support available to access the session and a written guide available. This specialist clinic offers the opportunity to learn about treatments such as chemotherapy, Herceptin, radiotherapy, letrozole and tamoxifen. This will include potential regimes, side effects and timelines for treatment. You will also be given information about benefits and other financial support, learn more about returning to work following treatment, discover information about a good diet and lifestyle and become more knowledgeable about long term side effects and the consequences of treatment. You will also have the opportunity to learn more about issues relating to breast cancer and follow up including surveillance, genetics and body image. If you have any questions about this clinic please contact Caroline Tweedie on 0191 445 2050.
Movement Recovery and Improvement Programme
We offer a 6-week program to patients currently on or recovering from treatment. The sessions take place on a weekly basis virtually, this programme is accessed via TEAMS on the computer rather than a face to face session and there is support available to access the session and a written guide available. Each session is dedicated to an aspect of cancer and is delivered by a professional expert in that field. These sessions are aimed at improving patient knowledge, confidence and promoting peer and social support. Potential topics included in these sessions are managing hair loss, diet and weight management, body image, exercise, lymphoedema, fatigue and finances. If you have any questions about this 6-week programme please contact Caroline Tweedie on 0191 445 2050.
The service is open 8am – 5pm and is based at QE Hospital, Sunderland and South Tyneside