Patients self-administer chemo from comfort of their home

Left to right Sarah Clarkson Jennie Lawn Emma Thomas, all sisters in haematology at the Friarage.

Patients with multiple myeloma are being trained by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to self-administer their own chemotherapy at home.

The trust, which runs the James Cook University Hospital and the Friarage Hospital, is one of a few NHS trusts to give patients or their carers the ability to administer their own chemotherapy treatment.

Previously patients would need to travel to hospital once or twice a week to have their treatment or they would be visited by a community nurse who would administer it for them.

But eligible patients with myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer, are now being offered bespoke training and support to allow them to inject Bortezomib, in either their tummy, abdomen or thigh, from the comfort of their own home.

Bortezomib is a cancer treatment called a proteome inhibitor. Proteomes are found in cells and help to break down the proteins that the cell does not need. Bortezomib blocks the proteomes, so the proteins build up inside the cell, and the cancer cell then dies.

Following their training, patients are given a batch of injections and are telephoned weekly whilst on their treatment and more frequently if required, as well as having access to a 24-hour helpline.

Jennifer Lawn, haematology clinical nurse specialist, was involved in setting up the nurse-devised home chemotherapy scheme.

She said: “We are really excited to be able to offer the opportunity for patients to be able to self-administer their chemotherapy at home. This presents significant benefits for both the patients and hospital staff.”

Sarah Clarkson, haematology clinical support sister, added: “There are multiple benefits for this practice including patient convenience, patient empowerment, improved quality of life, reduced health-care utilisation and reduced hospital visits.”

One of the first patients to self-administer their chemotherapy was 57-year-old Lizzie Preston.

When asked if she wanted to self-administer her chemo, instead of travelling to The Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre at the Friarage, the mother of two had no hesitations.

Commenting on her experience using the injections, Lizzie said: “Being able to administer your treatment at home helps you feel like you are in control.

“During my last course of chemo I was doing tummy injections every day, so I have got very used to needles.

“It’s easy to do, a lot more people could be doing it themselves.”