In the Capital Region of Denmark, any late complications after cancer treatment are usually dealt with at the department where the patient is being, or was, treated for cancer. The departments have specialist staff to treat the specific cancer disease and any late complications caused by the cancer.
Depending on the specific late complications, the departments refer the patient to the relevant hospital department. If the needs of the patient are best dealt with in the patient's own municipality or at the patient's general practitioner, the hospital department will refer the patient to the relevant services.
However, in the 2021 budget for the Capital Region of Denmark, it was decided to establish a clinic for late complications following treatment for cancer of the colon or rectum at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital. Since then, politicians in the Capital Region of Denmark have earmarked funds to continue the clinic permanently.
The screening is carried out at the clinic on patients who have been treated for cancer of the colon, rectum or anus. The clinic clarifies whether there is a need to offer diagnostic evaluation and treatment of any late complications.
At a meeting on 1 November, the Health Committee reviewed a status report for the clinic showing that, since the establishment of the clinic, 956 patients have been offered screening. The department has received feedback from 807 of these 956 patients, of whom 688 (85%) have received an offer of needs screening.
Stories about late complications make an impression
Before the meeting, the chairman of the Health Committee, Christoffer Buster Reinhardt (Conservative People's Party) had visited the clinic for late complications and spoken with patients.
"Their stories made a strong impression on me, because, as if it weren’t enough with the disease itself, late complications may turn their life up and down and affect their quality of life. Politically, in the Capital Region of Denmark we have strong focus on compliance with the diagnostic evaluation and treatment, but it’s also important that people are helped back to everyday life after they have been seriously ill and they experience late complications,“ said Christoffer Buster Reinhardt (Conservative People’s Party).
The chair of the Health Committee believes that, although it is vital to cure cancer, it is also important to secure a good life afterwards.
“I’m pleased for every single person who has received help at the clinic. And perhaps it’d make sense to establish similar clinics for at other cancer areas and other treatments with late complications, although we still have a clear priority to focus our energies on ensuring that we have the capacity to diagnose and treat the cancer disease itself within the statutory and recommended waiting times. And departments already offer the specialist programmes for treatment of late complications,” says Christoffer Buster Reinhardt.
Facts - background of the clinic for late complications
- Funds from the 2022 and 2023 budgets (total DKK 2.5 mill. annually from 2023) were appropriated to continue the clinic for late complications after cancer treatment in the colon or rectum at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital (at Herlev) and expand it to cover the whole Region.
- Expansion to cover the whole Region required establishing a function for specialist treatment of late complications for all patients in the Region with colon and rectal cancer.
- Further to this, the department wanted to establish a knowledge and expertise centre, among other things to offer teaching and courses to develop the skills of nurses and physicians.
- Furthermore, the structure around MDT conferences at the time was to be expanded to include patients from throughout the region.
Typical late complications for the patient group
- Intestinal disorders
- Disorders of the urinary tract
- Psychosocial problems and fatigue
- Sexual dysfunction
- Pain and neuropathic pain
- Ostomy-related complications
- Gynecological disorders
- Skin disorders
By far the majority of patients treated at the clinic have intestinal complications.