There are many different types of cancer that people may be affected by. The Northern Trust Cancer Services treats many types of cancers.
The individual care of each patient is important to us and our team of cancer specialists will discuss every step of your pathway with you. Throughout your pathway, you may be referred to another Trust, for example the Belfast Trust, for more specialist treatment.
This section focuses on the types of cancer that are treated within the Northern Trust and the pathways that patients may follow. We have provided more information on each cancer type and their pathways.
Patients with a suspected cancer follow a general care pathway from referral to treatment. Though the detail of each pathway is unique to each patient, the main pathway of a patient involves:
If a patient is suspected of having a cancer, they are referred (usually by a GP) to a specialist consultant within the Northern Trust. They may then be referred to a hospital in the Belfast Trust at a later date for more specialised treatment.
These are routine tests patients will have to investigate their signs and 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)
Patients suspected of having a cancer are discussed by a multi-disciplinary team, specialising in treating cancer. The team will discuss each patient individually, why they have been referred, their medical history, the results of any investigative tests and treatment options.
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. There are also specialist nurses within the Trust available to support patients from diagnosis.
Decision to treat
Once a cancer diagnosis is confirmed patients will sometimes be discussed again at the MDM to decide the best way to care for the patient. A doctor will discuss and agree this with the patient.
If treatment is decided and a patient has given their consent, a treatment date will be arranged and the patient will be informed as soon as possible. There a number of treatments used for cancer including; brachytherapy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, active surveillance or specialist palliative care. Patients may have a combination of treatments depending on their cancer.
Following your treatment
Following treatment which will require you to be a patient in the hospital, e.g. for surgery, most treatment (chemotherapy and radiotherapy) is given as an outpatient.
You will only be admitted to hospital if the nature of your cancer or your treatment makes it impossible for you to remain at home.
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 their treatment.