Professor Fallowfield specialises in psychosocial oncology which focuses on understanding and treating the social, psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects of the disease.
She has published more than 300 papers, book chapters and textbooks during her distinguished career and her work has helped to drastically change the way in which doctors deal with the psychological effects of cancer.
As well as teaching young doctors how to communicate better with patients, Professor Fallowfield runs training workshops and presents lectures across the world. In 2010, she was awarded the Pfizer/BOA Excellence in Oncology Lifetime Achievement Award.
Speaking about her honour, Prof Fallowfield said: “I am absolutely thrilled to learn that I will be the first Professor of Psycho-oncology to be awarded a Damehood. It is a worthy and fitting tribute to all the amazing patients with cancer who have contributed to the research done by my team SHORE-C at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. I have no idea who the generous people were who felt motivated to nominate me, but I'd like to thank them and the doctors and nurses I've been privileged to work with over the years.”
The Dean and Professor of Surgical Oncology at BSMS, Professor Malcolm Reed, said: “Professor Fallowfield has dedicated her academic career to undertaking research in the area of psycho-oncology with a major focus on breast cancer.
“Thirty five years ago, when she qualified in psychology, women diagnosed with breast cancer were almost always treated by mastectomy with little if any support or understanding of the psychological impact of the diagnosis and treatment on the patient and their family. Through a series of landmark studies, Prof Fallowfield and her team demonstrated the benefits of honest and open discussion of all aspects of the diagnosis and treatment options on long-term physical and psychological outcomes. These findings have been of enormous international importance and have been widely applied to all areas of cancer treatment and many other aspects of healthcare.
“Prof Fallowfield has also undertaken key research with clinicians to improve their communication skills – essential for helping patients cope with the challenge of a cancer diagnosis. As a breast cancer surgeon, I have admired and implemented the recommendations of her research and as Dean of BSMS, I am delighted that she has received the recognition of this richly deserved honour.”