Today, Bolton based charity campaigner, Debbie Dowie, has said she feels “very strongly” that unnecessary cancer treatment needs to change.
This follows the news that 4,000 British women go through unnecessary, and sometimes harmful, breast cancer treatment each year.
Mrs Dowie, wife of ex-footballer Iain Dowie, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and, after a mastectomy, was told that she would need to have chemotherapy.
“Fortunately I had an amazing oncologist who told me about a test that is only offered in Los Angeles,” said Mrs Dowie.
The test is not available on the NHS and cost Debbie £2,500. 8 weeks after sending her breast tissue to Los Angeles, she was happy to receive the news that she would not benefit from chemotherapy.
“I was in a very fortunate position that I could afford to pay for the test, it was later refunded by my insurance company as they realised that I had saved the insurance company between £30,000-£40,000 on chemotherapy and other subsequent treatments,” she added.
Mrs Dowie suggests that for some people, like herself, chemotherapy is not always the most suitable option.
“A friend of mine, wife, and mother of 3 recently underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer. Unfortunately the chemotherapy was not suitable and affected her heart. She died in her sleep 2 weeks ago aged 48,” she explained.
After her diagnosis, Mrs Dowie founded the charity Boot Out Breast Cancer. The charity aims to raise funds for the latest advances in breast cancer treatments.
Despite potential difficulties with cancer treatment, Debbie encourages both women and men to go for breast screenings, as early diagnosis is key.
“I would much rather we were over diagnosed and are called back for 2nd screenings than to let people slip through the net,” she added.
Talking about people being sent for unnecessary treatment after breast screenings, Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said:
“Research is advancing at pace and we hope that in the future there will be a number of new techniques that we can use alongside the screening programme to make it more sophisticated and reduce the numbers of women having unnecessary treatment.
Until this is possible, we’d recommend women who have had something unusual picked up through screening to seek full advice and discuss all possible options with their breast cancer specialist team.”
Statistics for this bar chart have been gathered from Cancer Research UK