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New NICE Guidelines Give Welcome Support But Lack One Vital Ingredient Says Leading Cancer Charity

Embargoed until Wednesday 24th March 2004

Leading UK holistic cancer charity the Bristol Cancer Help Centre today welcomed the recognition in the groundbreaking new NICE Supportive and Palliative Care Guidelines of the impact of a cancer diagnosis on "the whole of a person's life", and the consequent improvements in services recommended.

However - in the wake of it's keynote lecture on diet and cancer last week attended by many leaders in the field - the charity regretted the lack of information in the NICE guidelines on the role of nutrition following a diagnosis.

"These excellent guidelines will help to create a huge shift in the culture of cancer services, and have the potential to improve people's experience of treatment and care beyond recognition" explains charity chief executive Christopher Head.

"However in the area of nutrition, NICE have missed a vital opportunity. Sadly this area gets only a passing mention and there is little recognition of the role of nutrition as a potentially vital self-help tool. We all have to shop, cook and eat so it is important both people affected by cancer - and health professionals caring for them can learn how to build up the body's vitamin, mineral and phytochemical army, to boost immune function."

The Bristol Cancer Help Centre did warmly welcome the emphasis on care tailored to the individual:

"The recommendations in these guidelines will help to really put the needs of the person with cancer exactly where they should be -right at the heart of the healthcare system." Chris Head comments.

The Bristol Cancer Help Centre supports key NICE recommendations including that following a diagnosis people:

  • are given clear information they need to make informed choices,
  • are involved fully in decision making about their treatment and care,
  • have access to good quality information about complementary therapies
  • and are offered access to a range of physical, emotional and spiritual support.

Chris Head believes that this can radically change people's experience and mind-set following diagnosis:-

"That combination of physical, emotional and spiritual support is precisely the unique kind of help we have been providing through the world-renowned Bristol Approach to cancer care. We know from our work with thousands of people with cancer over the past twenty-four years, the enormous difference this support can make to people's ability to cope with the daily challenges of living with cancer, and the extent to which it can improve quality of life."

The Bristol Cancer Help Centre specialises in delivering many of the services identified as essential in these guidelines, and looks forward to developing partnerships with service providers and sharing it's expertise in areas identified in the guidelines including:-

provision of clear accessible information and support *
(*See section 4 of NICE Guidelines Information pages 64-74))
  • the charity (through it's national helpline) is a reputable source of good quality information on areas including complementary therapies, self-help, and nutrition
education and training for health professionals* and complementary therapists
(*See Section 10 Rehabilitation Services pages 134-146)
  • the Centre teaches up to 500 professionals and therapists a year how to integrate complementary therapies, nutritional guidlines and self help techniques into their work with people with cancer - for example teaching a visualisation/relaxation for people to use before chemotherapy treatment.
  • improving the quality of complementary cancer care*
    (*See section 11 of NICE guidelines p148-154).
to build the skills base of complementary therapists The charity has developed the first national qualification** for therapists in working with people with cancer.
(**See section 11 of NICE guidelines p150 sections B and C)

a unique combination of physical, spiritual and emotional support*
(*See sections 5, pages 74-86, 7 pages 95-105, & 10 and 11 of NICE guidelines, Psychological support services, Spiritual Support services, Rehabilitation and Complementary therapy services)

  • to people with cancer and their loved ones through it's world renowned residential programme offering two day Bristol Approach and five day Bristol Retreat courses run by teams of doctors, nurses and complementary therapists.
  • New courses launched this year: Nurture The Body, Mini-Retreat For The Spirit, and Developing Self-Help Techniques focus on exactly these three areas.
Chris Head concludes:

"We look forward to sharing expertise with service providers at local and national levels to help people with cancer to strengthen themselves emotionally, physically and spiritually. "The big challenge now will be to ensure that the resources (�28.3m) identified by NICE as needed are available to improve the quality of supportive cancer care for the one in three people in the UK affected."

Free nutritional guidelines, confidential information and support are available to anyone affected by cancer from charity's National Telephone Helpline on Tel: 0845 123 23 10 or email: helpline@bristolcancerhelp.org


For more information, please contact Clare Benjamin, Bristol Cancer Help Centre on tel: 0117 9515 or email: cbenjamin@bristolcancerhelp.org

Notes to editors

  1. The Penny Brohn Memorial Lecture was established in 2002 in memory of the co-founder of the Bristol Cancer Help Centre and is a tribute to Penny's questioning spirit. The Lecture is a forum for debating current and emerging issues in cancer care that may be neglected by mainstream discussion and research. It is an important opportunity for speakers to explore ways in which people with cancer can regain some measure of control over their health and wellbeing the pursuit of which was Penny's passion.
  2. The Bristol Cancer Help Centre was founded in 1980 by the late Penny Brohn a woman living with cancer, and her great friend Pat Pilkington MBE to support people living with cancer and those close to them.
  3. It is the UK's leading holistic cancer charity that has pioneered and specialises in the world famous Bristol Approach to cancer care that provides a unique range of physical, emotional and spiritual support to help people to deal with the challenges a cancer diagnosis brings.
  4. The charity offers information and support through Bristol Approach two day and Bristol Retreat five day residential courses at the Centre providing people affected by cancer with a unique programme combining complementary therapies, self-help techniques, practical advice on nutrition, and emotional support. A range of follow up courses are also available.
  5. The charity's Cancerpoint service enables people affected by cancer in the Bristol area, Somerset and Wiltshire to access individual appointments with the Centre's therapy team.
  6. The Bristol Approach works hand in hand with conventional medical treatment, and has been developed and is delivered by the charity's experienced multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses and complementary therapists.
  7. The charity also works to integrate a holistic approach into mainstream cancer services, and to develop good practice in the field of complementary cancer care, with over 500 training places a year for health professionals and complementary therapists a year, in using the Bristol Approach in their work to support people with cancer.
  8. For information and support contact the Bristol Cancer Help Centre National Telephone Helpline on 0845 123 23 10 email helpline@bristolcancerhelp.org or log onto www.bristolcancerhelp.org.

"It has been a great satisfaction to me to see how strongly the approach pioneered at Bristol has influenced the development and improvement of cancer services all over Britain."

HRH The Prince of Wales

Patron of the Bristol Cancer Help Centre.