This section focuses on the types of cancer that are treated within the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and the pathways that patients follow. There are many different types of cancer that people may be affected by. Please click on the links on the right for more information on each type.
Patients with a suspected cancer follow a care pathway from referral to treatment. Though the detail of each pathway is unique to each patient, the pathways broadly covers:
- Referral: Patients are referred to a cancer unit or centre. If they live within the Belfast area they will be referred to one of the hospitals within the Belfast Trust for investigative tests. If a patient lives in another area in Northern Ireland they are normally referred to a hospital within their local health care trust for further investigation. They may be referred to a hospital in the Belfast Trust at a later date.
- Diagnostics: Diagnostics are routine tests patients will have to investigate their symptoms. Tests may include scans and images ( X-rays, MRIs, CT Scans etc.), biopsies of tissues and cells and blood tests.
- Multi- Disciplinary Team Meeting (MDM): Every patient suspected of having cancer is discussed by a multi-disciplinary team specialising in treating cancer. The team will discuss why a patient has been referred, their medical history, the results of any tests and treatment options.
- Diagnosis: Once all the necessary investigations have taken place a diagnosis will be made. Patients will be told their diagnosis at a results appointment by a doctor who will explain what will happen next.
- Decision to Treat: Once a diagnosis is confirmed patients will sometimes be re-discussed at the MDM to decide the best way to care for the patient. A doctor will discuss and agree this with the patient.
- First Definitive Treatment: If treatment is decided and a patient has given their consent, a treatment date will be arranged and the patient informed as soon as possible. There a number of treatments including; brachytherapy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, active surveillance or specialist palliative care. Patients may have a combination of treatments depending on their cancer.
Follow-Up / Review Appointments
Follow-up / review appointments are opportunities for patients to meet with a doctor or a specialist nurse to discuss their health and well-being following treatment.