Thursday, March 5, 2015

Rethink Breast Cancer Calls for Improved Care for Young Women

Rethink’s Care Guidelines serves as an important tool for young women with breast cancer and their healthcare providers to help fill the gaps in treatment and care

Rethink Breast Cancer releases Care Guidelines for Young Women with Breast Cancer, Canada’s first guiding principle document that draws attention to the unique needs of young women with breast cancer in treatment and care. Covering issues including fertility preservation, side effects of specific treatments such as early menopause, and the need for support from other young women who have experienced the disease, the Care Guidelines outline ten distinct issues which doctors and health care workers need to address when treating young women with breast cancer. Inspired by similar guidelines in the UK, Rethink Breast Cancer’s Care Guidelines for Young Women with Breast Cancer draws from the results of a national survey of women with breast cancer that Rethink Breast Cancer conducted. The Care Guidelines can be downloaded at rethinkbreastcancer.com/careguidelines.

For young women diagnosed with breast cancer, the Care Guidelines will raise awareness of the specialized care they should receive and help them advocate that all their needs are addressed by their medical team. For doctors and health care workers, the guidelines complement the existing standards of care and are a reminder that young women with breast cancer face issues unique to their age and life stage.

MJ DeCoteau, Rethink Breast Cancer’s Founder and Executive Director notes, “Canada has a high standard of medical care. However, we have surveyed many young women with breast cancer and they did not feel that all their care needs were met during treatment. The Care Guidelines will help close the gaps in care and empower young women to advocate for their unique care needs. We are calling on all Canadian healthcare professionals to endorse and adhere to these guidelines for treating young women.”

For many young women, the aggressiveness of their cancer places pressure to begin treatment quickly, which doesn’t leave much time to take steps to discuss all of the implications of treatment. The Care Guidelines will help ensure that issues such as fertility are discussed and appropriate steps taken before treatment begins.

“I think Rethink Breast Cancer’s Care Guidelines are extremely important in ensuring that young women’s needs are properly addressed. As someone who went through it myself, I know how important it is to advocate for yourself throughout the process, and these guidelines will empower young women with breast cancer to do exactly that.” says Stephanie Gilman, diagnosed at age 28.

Rethink Breast Cancer is launching the Care Guidelines campaign with the endorsement of members of the Rethink Young Women’s Network of young women who have experienced breast cancer and members of their Scientific Advisory Committee including Dr. Christine Brezden-Masley, Division Head of Hematology / Oncology at St. Michael’s Hospital; Dr. Daniel Rayson, Medical Oncologist, QEII Cancer Care Program; Dr. Jory Simpson, Assistant Medical Director of the CIBC Breast Centre at St. Michael’s Hospital; and Dr. Sunil Verma, Medical Oncologist at the Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre.

Dr. Jory Simpson supports, “These guidelines magnify the key issues facing young women with breast cancer and will be instrumental in guiding the entire multidisciplinary team on how best to provide the most comprehensive and compassionate care to our patients.”

Rethink is calling on all doctors, health care professionals, and cancer centres across Canada to formally endorse the Care Guidelines by adding their name to the list of supporters at rethinkbreastcancer.com/careguidelines.

Young women with breast cancer are encouraged to visit the website to download a copy of Rethink Breast Cancer’s Care Guidelines for Young Women with Breast Cancer to bring with them to their appointments as a guiding document through care and to encourage their medical teams to endorse them. The webpage also features ways that friends, family and supporters can share the Care Guidelines with young women in their lives and help Rethink garner support for the #CareGuidelines campaign through social media.

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