A NEW service has been launched at Basildon Hospital for patients with unidentified cancers.

There are more than 10,000 cases of cancer of unknown primary in the country every year, and it is the fourth most common cause of cancer death.

The new service is aimed at caring for patients who have advanced cancer, but the exact type cannot be identified.

People with suspected cancer are referred to the hospital by their GP for cancer investigations and treatment.

Once diagnosed, they usually receive care and support from a dedicated team that specialises in the particular type of cancer they have – such as skin, lung or bowel.

Until now there has not been a specialist team to offer continued support to patients.

The service will link with other services in the trust and in neighbouring hospitals to ensure doctors can work together to provide high standards of care.

Katy Low, a clinical nurse specialist for the service, said: “The trust is one of only a few in the country to have a dedicated nurse for cancers of unknown primary.

“Before now, these patients could find themselves passed between services for their secondary cancer symptoms to be treated without one team overseeing their care.

“This meant patients could miss out on vital support.

“My role is to provide information, advice and support to patients and their families as well as appointment coordination, symptom control and psychological support.

“Although the patients we see have secondary cancer, there are treatment options that can still be considered that may improve their quality of life and control symptoms.

“Unfortunately for some people with advanced cancer, treatment is not an option.

“I work closely with the Macmillan team to provide end of life support for these patients and their families.”