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Cancer services

The cancer service is a major tertiary referral centre for all forms of malignant disease in adults and provides a secondary and tertiary service for breast surgery and for non-malignant conditions in clinical haematology and haemophilia.

The Cancer Centre at Barts and The London together with Oldchurch Hospital form the East London Regional Cancer Centre, serves the cancer units at Newham, Homerton, Whipps Cross and King George Hospitals. The centre provides an integrated service to over one and a half million people in North East London ensuring they all have access to high quality, specialist cancer care. With the exception of surgery, all cancer care is delivered at Barts.

The Cancer Centre is made up of the following specialities:

  • Breast Cancer.
  • Clinical Oncology/Radiotherapy.
  • Clinical Haematology.
  • Cytogenetics Laboratory.
  • Haematological Oncology.
  • Medical Oncology.
  • Palliative Care.

We also work closely with the women's services team at Barts and The London Gynaecological Cancer Centre.

It benefits from a patient information service in partnership with The Vicky Clement-Jones Cancerbackup Information Centre.

The North East London Cancer Network produce the following guides for anyone affected by cancer and living in the local area.

Download Cancer Network guide to services in City and Hackney.

Download Cancer network guide to services in Newham.

Download Cancer network guide to services in Tower Hamlets.

Breast Cancer

The Breast Cancer Unit pioneered the concept of a ‘One-stop Diagnostic Outpatient Clinic’, whereby patients are able to have a clinical, radiological and cytological assessment (triple assessment) in one visit, with results made available on the same day.

Specialist surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, oncologists, breast care nurses and radiotherapists are available, providing an expert multidisciplinary team and reflecting the cancer centre status for Barts. Clinical breast care nurse specialists work within the unit and are available to provide information, practical help, emotional support and a continuity of care for breast patients.


Clinical Oncology/Radiotherapy

The Clinical Oncology/Radiotherapy service provides a multidisciplinary approach to care and has close working relationships with other providers of cancer care in the hospital and the community. The service is run to assess and treat patients with, or suspected of having, malignant disease. Patients are treated by external beam irradiation (teletherapy), brachytherapy and cytotoxic chemotherapy.

There is an active programme of supportive care for patients on treatment – particularly close links exist with the palliative care services, social work, chaplaincy, the bereavement service and local hospices.

Services available:

  • External beam radiotherapy using x-rays or high-energy electrons as appropriate.
  • Comprehensive facilities for simulation and planning of therapy including simulator, dedicated CT scanning sessions, the Cadplan computerised planning system plus full mould room support.
  • Brachytherapy using the Microselectron HDR mechanical afterloading system for gynaecological, intraluminal or interstitial implants.
  • Unsealed source therapy for thyroid, prostatic metastases and other malignancies.
  • Chemotherapy particularly for solid tumours.
  • Specialist nursing to advise on management of radiation reaction and to offer counselling.
  • Specialised techniques including total body irradiation prior to bone marrow transplantation, focal stereotactic brain radiotherapy for AV malformations and small tumours (radiosurgery), IMRT and conformal radiotherapy.


Clinical Haematology

The Clinical Haematology service provides treatment for patients with clinical (non-malignant) haematology such as sickle cell anaemia, thalassaemia, aplastic anaemia, clotting disorders and haemophilia.

There is a dedicated anticoagulant service which is provided through a dedicated team, including a haematologist, nurse and pharmacy practitioners.

Services available:

Consultation and advice are given on the diagnosis, investigation and treatment of patients suspected of having a haematological disorder including:

  • Diagnosis and treatment of anaemia, including haematinic deficiency, sickle cell disease and thalassaemia, auto-immune disorders, haemolysis and enzymopathies.
  • Diagnosis of haemostatic defects including prothrombic states, treatment with and control of anticoagulant and thrombolytic drugs.
  • Diagnosis and treatment of thrombocytopenia and other platelet disorders.
  • Diagnosis and treatment of haemophilia and allied disorders.
  • Genetic analysis and counselling.
  • Antenatal transfusion and immuno-haematology.
  • Forensic serology.


The Cytogenetics Laboratory

The Cytogenetics Laboratory provides a clinical service to patients with a wide range of malignant disease including leukaemias, lymphomas and solid tumours. Samples are sent to the laboratory from various departments, as well as a number of referrals from other hospitals.

The clinical diagnostic service involves the culturing of cells from samples such as bone marrow, peripheral blood, lymph nodes and tumour tissue and the subsequent analysis of chromosomes using light microscopy.

The laboratory is nationally recognised for its expertise in haematological disease and has national and international collaborations with other scientists in the field. The diagnostic service participates in the National External Quality Assurance Scheme (NEQAS) for Clinical Cytogenetics and is dedicated to research and development.

As part of an Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) Unit, the laboratory actively conducts research projects internally, in collaboration with other departments at Barts and The London and externally. The ICRF has provided the laboratory with state-of-the-art imaging equipment enabling the development of more sophisticated molecular cytogenetic techniques.


Haematological oncology

The haematology oncology service has an international reputation for the treatment of patients with leukaemia, myeloma and lymphomas. Specialist tertiary services such as high dose treatment with autologous peripheral blood progenitor cell support, allogeneic bone marrow transplantation and the use of radioactive antibodies are provided.

Services available:

  • Consultation and advice on diagnosis, investigation and treatment of patients suspected of having haematological malignancies.
  • Treatments including intensive cytotoxic chemotherapy, biological therapies and bone marrow transplantation.
  • Counselling and information provision at the time of diagnosis and continuing support of patients and their families during treatment.
  • Full support services, including palliative care.


Medical Oncology

This Medical Oncology service provides consultation and advice on diagnosis, investigation, screening and treatment of patients suspected of having cancer. Comprehensive treatment with chemotherapy, hormone therapy and immunotherapy for cure or relief of symptoms is provided. Research and development is conducted on new and improved treatments for cancer patients, new preventative treatments and the application of scientific advances in the understanding of cancer causation.

Services available

The comprehensive service includes:

  • Consultation and counselling for patients, their families and friends.
  • Treatment with chemotherapy, hormone therapy and immunotherapy for cure and relief of symptoms from cancer.
  • Research and development of preventative strategies and new drug treatment through the conduct of clinical trials and protocols for cancer care.
  • Integrated treatment is provided together with the departments of Radiotherapy, Haematology, Palliative Care and the Surgical departments.
  • Patient information and an opportunity to talk to a nurse with The Vicky Clement-Jones Cancerbackup Information Centre

There are innovative treatment programmes with scientific trials to assess new chemotherapy and immunotherapy agents, hormone and growth factors. The Chemotherapy Day Unit has dedicated facilities and a team of chemotherapy trained nurses.

This service is comprehensive but has particular interests and strenghts in the following areas:

  • Breast and gynaecological cancer, hormonal and chemotherapy.
  • Chemotherapy and endobronchial therapy by laser, stent and brachytherapy for lung cancer and mesothelioma.
  • Gastrointestinal cancers, chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
  • Chemotherapy, hormonal and immunotherapy of urological cancers and melanoma.
  • The development of new chemotherapeutic drugs and treatments with immunological and hormonal agents.


Palliative care

The Palliative care service supports the management and care of patients with a terminal illness. The multi-professional team provides specialist advice about symptom control as well as psychological and social support to patients, families, carers and staff.

Services available:

  • Advice on the management of physical and psychological symptoms.
  • Support to the patients, families and carers during the illness.
  • Assessment of the bereavement process and advice on other available agencies.
  • Educational resource, formally and informally for all levels of staff.
  • Provision of a contact point for liaison with outside palliative care agencies e.g. hospices and community palliative care teams.
  • Provision of support for staff caring for the terminally ill.
  • Multiprofessional team, consisting of doctors, nurses, secretaries and social work support. The team is closely integrated with all other services at Barts and The London and other local acute hospitals to provide comprehensive care.

2 week wait - urgent suspected cancer referrals