Friday, 2 November 2012

Over Diagnosis, Where Does That Leave Us?


Currently there is a buzz within the UK papers about over diagnosis of breast cancer. I was diagnosed with DCIS and this is one of those pre-cancers that have always remained under fire. DCIS has three grades and without having a core biopsy my diagnosis high grade wide spread DCIS would not have come about. My diagnosis would also have slipped through the net if my oncologist did not request a second lot of biopsies done. As far as the medical board were concerned my DCIS was harmless and I could go on my merry way, but Miss S was not happy with the results.
I have had many a discussion with ladies saying ‘Well your cancer isn’t a cancer!’. Well my reply is now if my cancer was not anything to worry about why have I developed a recurrence? 
My results from back in 2009 and my continuing concerns that maybe my follow up treatment was being too relaxed are written all over this blog. I have had friends being apologetic in one breath, then saying you was right Sarah and they should have listened. This of course is a bit late because my DCIS has now turned into stage III breast cancer. And not once was I in search of the chemotherapy ride. To me my blog has become a warning to other women and men out there facing breast cancer. Yes while catching my breast cancer early at a pre-cancer stage it is priority we iron out the treatment process. 

So where am I left on the Breast Cancer Lottery?

Well I must fight on personally, I have no choice. After all it is stage III and in my notes it says treatable, but I will never be truly relaxed.

This is an email I received from Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Dear Sarah,

As you may be aware, the results of an independent review into breast screening services have been published, with widespread coverage in the media.

The review was set up because of differing opinions about the risks and benefits of breast screening. As a valued supporter, we wanted to share with you the main results of the review, and what we think about it.

The review has confirmed that screening saves lives. In fact, it saves 1,300 a year – a huge number which shows the benefits of the service.

However, the review also showed the downside to screening. For all of those lives saved, around 4,000 women will be over-diagnosed. This means that those women may be diagnosed and treated for a cancer that may not have caused them harm in their lifetime.

We are working together with Breast Cancer Campaign and Breast Cancer Care to provide a unified voice on this issue. As the UK’s leading breast cancer charities we are supporting the work of an expert group looking at the information women receive when invited for their screening appointments and we call for this to be available as soon as possible.

While this review highlights the risks and benefits of breast screening, all of the breast cancer charities support breast screening. The service was set up for good reason and has been shown, by independent experts in this review, to save lives. For this reason we encourage all women to attend their screening appointments.

More information on this issue is available on our website with our full statement and videos here with a Q&A here.


We hope this provides clarity on what is a complex subject.

Sadly it highlights the confusion and urgency needed to resolve this complex situation of diagnosis and treatment. 
My diagnosis was the right path to go down, but my follow up treatment as in medication such as being put on a course of herceptin for a result of HER2 +++will always leave that dark shadow. 
As I keep saying no two breast cancers are the same, our diagnosis is tailored to the individual, not to the group. 

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