Supporting the needs of people living with metastatic and secondary disease


Session type:

Georgina Smerald1,Rachel White1,Jacqueline Goodchild1
1Macmillan Cancer Support



There is a growing group of people living with metastatic cancer. Some of whom will be living with cancer as a long-term condition. This group is likely to have needs differing from the rest of the cancer population and require ongoing personalised care and support. The current distribution of the workforce means there is often a focus on the time around diagnosis and end of life. This might mean that there is limited capacity for the workforce to support people with metastatic and secondary disease who might be receiving long term cancer care.


In 2017 Macmillan conducted a census in England and Wales collecting data on the size and shape of the cancer workforce. The roles included in the census were Cancer Specialist Nurses, Specialist Chemotherapy Nurses, Specialist Palliative care nurses and cancer support workers. As part of the data collection for the census, there was a field for roles that cover secondary or metastatic disease.


This analysis will look at the skills and distribution of the adult cancer nursing workforce. The majority of adult Cancer Specialist Nurses in England and Wales (86%) currently cover secondary and metastatic disease as part of their role. 12% of cancer specialist nurses who cover Secondary/Metastatic disease are also based in an Acute Oncology Service. There is also variation by cancer type e.g. only 75% of breast cancer nurses cover secondary and metastatic disease compared to 93% of Upper GI nurses.


It is important to understand the current nursing workforce who are supporting people living with secondary and metastatic disease to make sure this population are fully supported. New treatments may mean the prevalence of metastatic disease increases so more people may benefit from a cancer specialist nurse who are familiar with their unique needs.