New Ipswich Hospital handbook to provide additional support to skin cancer patients

The support group with their new handbook. Rachel Alexander is in the centre.

The support group with their new handbook. Rachel Alexander is in the centre. - Credit: Archant

Patients who are referred to a Suffolk hospital with skin cancer will soon be offered an essential guide in the form of a new handbook.

Written for Ipswich Hospital patients by patients, the new book aims to guide sufferers of skin cancer from diagnosis through treatment to discharge.

The malignant melanoma handbook has been put together by members of the hospital’s skin cancer support group, and will be given to every new patient from this week.

Information on the four main types of melanoma, its causes, diagnosis and prevention, as well as explaining the way people may feel after a diagnosis and how to cope with those emotions, will all be present in the booklet.

Pages for patients to personalise by writing down their own treatment plan, which can then be shared with their GP, are also featured.

Macmillan skin cancer clinical nurse specialist Rachel Alexander said: “A melanoma diagnosis can be a huge shock, but patients do not have to feel alone with their diagnosis and treatment.

As well as providing vital information about what to expect, the booklet also shows the range of help which is available, including our own skin cancer support group whose members have all faced similar experiences.

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“We have seen a large increase in the number of patients referred to us with suspected skin cancer over the past five years, with the number of people being diagnosed with melanoma rising from around 80 to 100 a year.”

Sue Roberts is chair of the support group.

She said: “When Rachel first talked to group members about the idea of a handbook for newly-diagnosed melanoma patients, the response was extremely positive.

“It is certainly something that we all would have liked access to following diagnosis.

“Our main message to new patients is that they are not alone and that help, advice and support is readily available.”