News | Feature

“We treat cancer patients holistically”

07 Feb 2023

Lina Patel, Associate Director of Cancer Care is responsible for overseeing clinical innovation, in a way that enables the hospital to achieve truly holistic care for patients.

Lina Patel-Associate-Director-of-Cancer-Care

“Our rapid expert diagnostics allow patients to start cancer care much quicker. The pathway is streamlined, and once we have a diagnosis we move each patient onto very personalised treatments that see the patient as a whole person, not just a cancer diagnosis.”

With more than 35 years’ experience in cancer services under her belt, Lina Patel joined The London Clinic in 2017 and was promoted to Associate Director of Cancer Care last year. She is responsible for overseeing clinical innovation, in a way that enables the hospital to achieve truly holistic care for patients..

Most recently, The London Clinic has focused on rapid diagnostics, with our breast cancer pathway well established, and plans are underway to set up pathways for prostate, bowel, and head, neck and lung cancer by the middle of 2023.

“If a patient has got a suspicious lump, or an area that could have cancers, we do all the tests and consultation on the day and the patient will get the results within the 48 hours,” said Lina. 

“We refer to this approach as ‘rapid expert diagnostics’, because it’s streamlined in such a way that patients have access to knowledge about whether they’ve got cancer very quickly.”

On average in the UK, to achieve a cancer diagnosis it can take a number of weeks and multiple appointments, which, understandably, causes anxiety for many patients.

Rapid expert diagnostics at The London Clinic aims to significantly reduce that waiting period.


What happens once patients receive a diagnosis?

With the promise of providing a diagnosis within 48 hours, it’s important that patients have a clear pathway that’s personalised to their needs.

Further tests will pinpoint which stage the cancer is at, with patients guided through the next steps by their consultant and a nurse specialist who will act as their keyworker.

“The diagnosis [will be] accurate because we’re using the top end of tech, and we’ve got specialist radiologists, for instance in reading mammograms and ultrasounds,” Lina says.

“Then, we’ve got a multi-disciplinary team – specialist surgeons such as breast surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, clinical nurse specialists and other allied health professionals (AHPs) – to finalise the recommendation for treatment. They make a joint decision about the treatment so that the consultant can go back to the patient and present the options.

“The patient will be given some time to make their decision – it’s important that they feel they are making an informed decision. And we are then in a position to start the treatment very quickly, supported by the very best technologies.”

Personalised care for patients

No person is the same, which can also be said of a cancer diagnosis.

“When a patient comes into The London Clinic, we treat them holistically, as complex individuals in need of specialised care, rather than another person who has received a cancer diagnosis,” says Lina.

“The human body and mind are all interlinked, so while someone might have come to us because of cancer, we’re also looking at non-cancer conditions, like arthritis, and ensuring they are wholly looked after.”

When patients have finished treatment at The London Clinic, they also have access to our “survivorship programme”, which is part of the hospital’s charitable work and is free of charge.

This includes monthly sessions on exercise, nutrition, mental health, and sexual and relationship support, as well as connecting cancer survivors with each other.

“Above all, no one here feels alienated,” says Lina. “These are all very personal matters that can be quite intimidating. So, providing help is crucial.”

Find out more about our cancer services.

Some of the content for this article was originally published in Prognosis. You can read the complete story using this link.