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The Cancer Society of Finland’s advice services are provided by health care professionals, of which there were about 50 in 2016. Altogether 716 people with cancer and their loved ones took part in adaptation courses. There were 920 peer support persons

Advice services

The CSF’s advice services include the national advice service and the advice services of the 12 provincial cancer societies. Some of the patient organisations also provide advice services.

There were about 50 health care professionals providing the advice services in 2016. The national advice service has five advice service oncology nurses and two hired staff.

The aim of the CSF’s advice service is to provide psychosocial support to cancer patients, their loved ones and other people who are concerned about cancer.

In 2016, the advice service operated with funding from the Finnish Cancer Foundation. This support was used for training, harmonising instructions, and producing information in Finnish and Swedish.

Advice by phone and email

The nationwide advice service runs a free phone advice service and an email advice service, the online chat service, and genetic counselling.

In 2016, the national advice service received altogether 4 075 contacts, the majority of which (2 928) were by phone and email (808). The LiveChat service, available during the operating times of the advice service, also received a good response. When a user visits a certain webpage, a chat box opens that can be used to chat in real time with an advice service oncology nurse.

There were 291 online chats conducted without prior appointment, which is four times the number over the previous year. There were 48 chats conducted by prior appointment.

The majority of people, 2 048, contacting the advice service were cancer patients. There were 805 contacts from the patients’ loved ones, and 1 486 by people who did not have cancer.

The matters people sought advice on included cancer symptoms, cancer and genetics, fears about getting cancer, cancer screening, income, and social issues. Discussion topics raised included cancer prevention, health care, nutrition, diagnoses, and follow-up. Many professionals wanted information on cancer and on rehabilitation courses.

The majority of contacts, 1 583, concerned breast cancer, 400 dealt with gynaecological cancer, 475 blood cancers, 309 colorectal cancer, 310 skin cancer, and 209 prostate cancer.

Genetic counselling

The advice service’s oncology nurses answered queries on a general level concerning the genetic risk of cancer. During 2016, the national advice service was used 479 times to discuss genetics and cancer.

In 2016, the nationwide advice service sent a form for acquiring preliminary information to 70 clients, and there were 36 client visits to an oncology nurse.

The work of the CSF’s heredity counselling service involves a specialist in medical genetics. The medical officer checks all the family trees drawn by the advice service’s oncology nurses.

In 2016, the medical officer evaluated the genetic risk of a total of 175 clients, 161 female clients and 14 men, of whom 126 of them were healthy and 43 had cancer. Of these, 64 received a referral for specialist medical care.

The need for genetic counselling has increased year by year.

Benefits advice phone service

The national benefits helpline was open every weekday from 15.00 – 17.00. The calls were answered at the Cancer Society of Pirkanmaa, Tampere, which has coordinated this work.

By phoning the helpline callers were able to obtain advice on such things as sickness insurance, livelihood issues, patient rights and social services.

There were 90 callers in 2016, of whom 72 were women and 18 were med.

Cancer pain hotline

The collaboration between the CSF’s advice service and the Helsinki University Central Hospital’s Pain Clinic supports the running of the cancer pain hotline. In 2016, the hotline was open weekdays 09.00 – 12.00.

The hotline’s nurse, who is grounded in cancer pain issues, provides support and advice on problems related to the management of cancer patient’s pain. The service is intended for patients and loved ones, as well as for health care professionals. The cancer pain hotline received 36 calls in 2016, almost evenly divided among patients and loved ones. The most urgent calls were about insufficient pain medication, problems with using medication, uncontrollable pain, and other symptoms.

Rehabilitation support

Rehabilitation and health promotion aim

  • for cancer patients’ recovery
  • to reduce the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment
  • slow down as far as possible the aggravation of symptoms.

The rehabilitation provided by the CSF supplements public sector rehabilitation services. In 2016, the member associations of the CSF carried out adaptation courses with support from the Finnish.

Slot Machine Association (RAY), using their own funds, or with funding from the Social Insurance Institution.

Adaptation courses are intended for people with cancer and their loved ones. Some of the courses are for people with specific forms of cancer or for people of a certain age group. The courses are for individuals, couples or families, and they are held either as outpatient courses or at rehabilitation centres.

There were 49 adaptation courses in 2016 with RAY support, most of them held in institutions. There were 25 adaptation courses for individuals, 20 for couples, and four for families. There were two courses for Swedish speakers with cancer and their loved ones. Altogether 716 people with cancer and their loved ones attended adaptation courses. The overall rating of the courses in the participants’ own evaluations is excellent.

A rehabilitation seminar was held in Helsinki in November 2016. The seminar was open to CSF, rehabilitation centre and public health care personnel, and had 53 participants.

A handbook for adaptation activities was written, and published in early 2017.

Collaboration on developing adaptation courses continued with the Rehabilitation Foundation, the Finnish Association for Mental Health, and the Finnish Heart Association. New partnerships were created for developing adaptation courses with the Finnish Central Association for Mental Health, the Finnish Diabetes Association, , the Allergy and Asthma Federation, the Finnish Psoriasis Association, and the Finnish Central Organisation for Skin Patients

Support persons

A handbook on peer support work was finalised in July 2016. There were about 920 support people in the CSF, and altogether 1 576 people received their peer support. A total of 5 389 support sessions were held, which included individual meetings, phone calls and email chat.

A volunteering development plan was drawn up in accordance with the CSF strategy. Support person activities and expert by experience activities are important forms of voluntary work for realising the development plan.