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Breast Radiotherapy Injury Rehabilitation

The Breast Radiation Injury Rehabilitation Service (BRIRS) is a national service managed by the BRIRS team at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath (RNHRD). The service is run in partnership with Barts Health and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester. It is supported by Macmillan Cancer and funded via National Specialist Commissioning.

We aim to improve the lives of people who have long-term ill effects and injury as a result of having radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer pre 1990.

Modern breast radiotherapy treatment is highly advanced and aims to protect surrounding areas of the body, which means that the risk of damage and injury is very small. However, a large number of women and some men who received historical breast radiotherapy treatment (particularly around or before 1990) are living with significant and complex ‘late effects’ that impact on their quality of life.

Symptoms, which include severe pain, loss of sensation, function and mobility of the arm or hand, lymphoedema and breathing problems, can develop many years after radiotherapy treatment and are called ‘late effects’. These symptoms are rare, cannot be reversed and can impact severely on quality of life, day-to-day living and psychological well-being. It is our aim is to provide a comprehensive plan of care centred on providing better symptom control, improving quality of life and maintaining independence as much as possible.

The team

BRIRS is run by a dedicated team of health care professionals from specialist areas in oncology, rheumatology, lung/respiratory care, pain management, psychology, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. We also offer specialist advice on the provision and management of compression sleeves, lymphoedema care, breast prostheses (including silicone fillers for correcting asymmetry) and reputable suppliers of post-surgery clothing. Patients can also visit our Macmillan Cancer Information Centre for an overview of available services including benefits advice and psychological support.

Referring to our service

The service accepts referrals from any healthcare providers including GPs, physiotherapy and occupational therapy services, rheumatology and pain clinics, and care of the elderly services. Members of the general public can also self-refer and choose which clinic (Bath, London or Manchester) they would like to attend.
All referrals are managed by our BRIRS team at the RNHRD in Bath by Professor Candy McCabe, consultant nurse, and Sharon Lloyd, Lead Nurse. Patients then choose which BRIRS centre they would like to attend, London, Bath or Manchester.

Contact us

BRIRS is held every six weeks in the Rehabilitation Unit at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Enquiries and referrals should be sent to:
Marianna Shiafkou, breast cancer clinical nurse specialist
Tel: 020 3465 5623 or 077 1136 9660
Email: marianna.shiafkou@bartshealth.nhs.uk

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