Secondary Breast Cancer Conference at The Christie Hospital 2nd July 2015

I have recently spent a day at a conference at The Christie specifically for Secondary Breast Cancer patients.

It was the first of a kind that was held there and a very informative day. Here is a brief overview of what I took away from the day. If you are a local patient and or being treated at The Christie then they are holding another day in October I believe. I have included the details at the end if you with to contact them.


The day started with a meet and greet and then led into the auditorium where speakers talked about various subjects and issues on and regarding secondary breast cancer.


Promoting healthy diet – following the Mediterranean diet – don’t stop eating dairy!

#breastcancer and #soya no evidence that it causes harm maybe good for hot flushes? No high supplements but fine in moderation

Alcoholic drinks – do we stop? Recommending one bottle a week at most… (!)

Do we need to take additional supplements? If balanced diet no but some may need extra Vit D (bone mets)

Herbal remedies? Talk to hosptial pharmacy first, may interfere with drugs – always talk to your Oncologist

Juicing fruit & veg. No evidence can be beneficial – fruit high sugar can create insulin spikes, veg lower calories

Should I avoid low calorie sweeteners? No evidence to say sweeteners can be detrimental to health

For successful weight loss – Reduce calorie intake and regular exercise – maintain muscle mass

The Christie NHS have specialist pharmacist who deal with questions about breast cancer & issues with any supplements

* It’s great that we are having the symptoms of SBC highlighted but it feels like cart before the horse! Too late.. This information about symptoms need to be talked about in PRIMARY breast cancer. I suggest we need an info graphic of these symptoms like we do with primary breast cancer symptoms *



Persisting, patterns and affecting Quality Of Life – it’s their job to decide if it’s an issue & if they can help

The 5 main areas that secondary breast cancer can appear are

  • bones
  • liver
  • lungs
  • brain
  • lymph nodes

BONE – Bone pain, acing dull and can be electrifying pain, problems with mobility and fatigue, risk of fracture, high calcium levels, spinal cord compression

TREATMENT report pain, band like symptoms round body/torso, pain killers, EXERCISE strengthen muscles! OT referral, regular blood tests, dental check ups (small risk of jaw necrosis) & people with bone cancer eligible for blue badge?

Note: Hope with lady who had secondary bone 12 years ago & was still OK with stable disease.

LUNG – short breath, non productive cough, pain in lungs & back, tiredness, fluid build up, clots cause sudden short breath

TREATMENT – can sometimes cause clots for ANY SBC patient so be aware of the symptoms! Helps to do deep breathing exercise, antibiotics, plural drainage, have chest X-ray and various things help for cough, don’t be afraid of morphine (a better pain killer)

LIVER – symptoms – nausea and vomiting stitch or stretching pain, right hand side, bloating, affect appetite, weight loss, fatigue and weak, fluid in abdomen

TREATMENT – steroids can help eating little and often, drainage, fatigue management, pain killer, laxatives

BRAIN – no routine screening, distinctive pattern, difficult to prevent, becoming more common as people living longer, blood brain barrier difficult to cross

SYMPTOMS – not occasional headaches more constant, vomiting (first thing in am), dizzy, visual disturbance, fits, impaired intellectual function, mood swings, balance, fatigue

TREATMENT – helped with steroids, anti epileptic drugs, OT, physio, memory clinic, keep in touch with DVLA

LYMPH NODES – swelling and pressure, mainly chest area, redness swelling and cough

Anxiety and depression very common for patients AND family – always talk it over with the oncologist or BCN

Report symptoms – signs of progression or if feel better, need to change treatment, maybe SEs, reaction



Breathing exercise with little yellow man – pandiculation

PALLIATIVE CARE is NOT the grim reaper! Palliative care is integrated with Specific hospital care

Study case with palliative care ‘looked normal but felt abnormal’ talking about voids & feeling overwhelmed



ER+ – tamoxifen, AI, fulvestrant, may work well early on then resistance develops

Herceptin and chemo + Kadcyla (good) vs Kadcyla + Perjeta – didn’t make much difference MARIANNE trial?

Why doesn’t immune system recognise cancer cells? Early days with breast cancer but getting success with #TNBC (triple negative BC) with T cells

Responses with #TNBC at ASCO conferences but body attacking itself causing ‘some’ deaths in trials #immunotherapy

It was an excellent day and apparently they are already talking about it being organised again for October so if you are interested then please ring:-

Claire Gaskell
Macmillan Breast Cancer Nurse Specialist
Christie Hospital
0161 446 3996
Bleep 12726 via Christie switchboard