In a significant stride towards enhancing patient care, new NICE guidelines on managing cancer-related spinal cord compression (SCC) were published last month, with Myeloma UK actively participating in their development.

Cancer-related SCC is a condition that arises when cancer spreads to the spine or puts pressure on the spinal cord, endangering the nervous system’s function. Without prompt treatment, it can lead to severe disability, including permanent paralysis.

While SCC is relatively rare, affecting about 3 to 5 out of every 100 individuals with cancer, it primarily affects those with breast, lung, prostate, lymphoma, and myeloma.

The guidelines aim to improve early diagnosis and treatment of SCC to prevent neurological injury and improve prognosis.

Prioritising patient-centred care

The essence of these guidelines lies in their commitment to patient-centred care. The guidelines aim to improve patient care and outcomes by ensuring that patients:

  • Recognise symptoms that indicate a risk of SCC and know to contact their healthcare team immediately
  • Receive an urgent scan completed within 24 hours and are subsequently diagnosed and assessed without delay
  • Are provided with a comprehensive pain management plan
  • Receive treatments to relieve their discomfort
  • Undergo radiotherapy or surgery as quickly as possible to minimise spinal cord damage and alleviate symptoms
  • Have their individual needs assessed, receive support, rehabilitation, and the necessary equipment to adapt to any disability, fostering the best possible quality of life

Myeloma UK played a pivotal role in shaping these guidelines through the contributions of Suzanne Renwick, Head of Clinical Practice Services, along with Dr. Chara Kyriakou, a Consultant Haematologist specialising in myeloma bone disease.

These guidelines prioritise patient-centred care. The valuable contributions of a myeloma patient ensured the inclusion of a holistic approach to care.

Making decisions together

Shared decision-making is at the core of these guidelines, encouraging patients to reflect on their priorities, worries, and treatment impact on daily life.

To improve shared decision-making, the guidelines advise patients to reflect on their priorities, worries, and the impact of treatment on their daily lives. The guidelines also underscore that declining treatment is a valid choice, and patients should feel comfortable discussing their concerns with their healthcare professionals.

Healthcare professionals are encouraged to provide clear information, engage in open dialogue with patients about their options, and consider patients’ preferences and concerns.

Decisions about treatment and care are best when they are made together.

Our commitment to the highest quality care

Myeloma UK remains committed to advancing myeloma patient care and improving the lives of those affected by myeloma.

The publication of these guidelines marks a significant step forward in ensuring that patients receive the highest quality of care and support, focusing on individual needs and preferences.