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Thanks to improvements in the drugs and treatments available for cancer, many more oncology patients are recovering from cancer, or living longer than previously would have been the case. This had led to an increase in the number of people with cancer who are admitted to hospital as emergencies, due to urgent problems related to either their cancer or its treatment. In addition, one in five cancer-related emergencies are due to cancer being suspected or confirmed for the first time. Oncology patients admitted in an emergency may see doctors and nurses who do not specialise in cancer, which may lead to poorer care.
It is important that patients with acute oncology presentations have access to cancer specialists as soon as possible. This toolkit suggests that NHS trusts set up acute oncology services, which can work with the team in the acute medical unit to help in the management of patients with acute oncology problems.
The toolkit includes:
- a quick guide to common oncology emergencies
- key stages of patient management in the first four and 24 hours
- how to avoid the admission of acute oncology patients
- a guide to the signs and symptoms of side effects of common cancer drugs
- a guide to common medical problems caused by cancer diagnosis.
The author of this toolkit, Dr Ernie Marshall, Macmillan Consultant in Medical Oncology, explains why oncology is relevant to the acute take.