Tag Archives: chemotherapy

UK woman learns she was misdiagnosed with breast cancer after having double mastectomy

From Yahoo: A woman has been left “unnecessarily traumatized” after she was misdiagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer that forced her to undergo a grueling amount of treatments and surgery.

Sarah Boyle is still struggling to come to grips with the fact that because of a “human error” she underwent an unnecessary double mastectomy and chemotherapy nearly three years ago, BBC News reported. “Being told I had cancer was awful, but then to go through all of the treatment and surgery, to then be told it was unnecessary was traumatizing,” the Stoke-on-Trent, England native told the outlet.

The heartbreaking experience began at the end of 2016 when Boyle, then a 25-year-old mother of one, started having difficulty breastfeeding her son.

At the time, Boyle said she noticed her son Teddy, then six-months-old, appearing “very distressed” as she attempted to feed him from her right breast, according to the BBC. After going to Royal Stoke Hospital in England, Boyle underwent a biopsy and scan. Doctors then diagnosed her with triple-negative breast cancer and immediately sent her for chemotherapy treatment.

Boyle eventually underwent a double mastectomy and later, reconstructive surgery, according to the outlet. She was also told that the aggressive cancer treatments could potentially harm her fertility.

It wasn’t until July 2017, however, that Boyle’s doctor told the mother of one she was misdiagnosed and did not actually have cancer, according to The Telegraph.

Boyle’s lawyers told the local newspaper that the mistake occurred because a biopsy sample had been incorrectly recorded.

In a statement to The Telegraph, a spokesperson from the University Hospital of North Midlands NHS Trust, the company that owns Royal Stokes Hospital, apologized and revealed that the misdiagnosis was due to a “human error.”

They also said that all cancer diagnoses are now checked by a second pathologist before a determination is made.

“A misdiagnosis of this kind is exceptionally rare and we understand how devastating this has been for Sarah and her family,” the rep said. “Ultimately the misreporting of the biopsy was a human error so as an extra safeguard all invasive cancer diagnoses are now reviewed by a second pathologist.”

Representatives at University Hospital of North Midlands NHS Trust did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Since the misdiagnosis, Boyle, now 28, has welcomed another child, a son named Louis, with her husband Stephen, 31. The family of four is working on moving forward after the traumatic experience.

“The past few years have been incredibly difficult for me and my family,” Boyle told The Telegraph. “While I was delighted when I gave birth to Louis [born Dec. 2018], it was really heartbreaking when I couldn’t breastfeed him.”

Though she doesn’t currently have cancer, the mother of two also said she’s anxious about her future because of the treatment and surgery she has already endured.

“As if [being unable to breastfeed] wasn’t bad enough, I am now worried about the possibility of actually developing cancer in the future because of the type of implants I have,” she explained to the newspaper. “I am also worried about complications that I may face because of my chemotherapy.”

Read the whole story here.

DCG

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NHS nightmare: Cancer patient who filled cups with blood & not diagnosed for 10 months dies

Ain’t socialized health care grand?

From Daily Mirror: A newly-wed who allegedly wasn’t diagnosed with bowel cancer for 10 months despite “filling cups with blood” when she went to the toilet, has died.

Gemma Epstein, who married two days before dying on December 20, was told by doctors to “take each day as it comes”.

She was fighting for her life and had to pay around £2,000 a month for drugs she could not get on the NHS. Her family had also set up a fundraising page to try and raise the cash for last-ditch treatment in Germany that they hoped could help her.

However, Gemma died just before Christmas as the cancer was so aggressive that no treatment could help her.
Gemma had started paying for Avastin in the hope it would shrink her tumours, as she had been told by the NHS she could not have the drug because they no longer use it.

The 37-year-old believed that had family doctors acted sooner she might have been not been facing such a bleak future.

On December 12, Gemma was told the cancer was too aggressive for Avastin to work on its own without chemotherapy.
Eight days later, her sister, Becky Epstein uploaded an emotional post to Facebook confirming her death. She said: “Gemma passed away this morning at 8am with her husband by her side. An unbelievably beautiful, courageous and inspirational lady who touched so many people throughout her life. We are so very proud of how bravely and fiercely she fought her illness, right until the very end, she is now at peace. RIP my beautiful big sister ”

Tributes poured in online from those who knew Gemma.

Speaking today, sister Becky, 34, said: “The doctor told her no more Avastin, no more chemo. Take each day as it comes. She broke down. She deteriorated every day and we didn’t know how long she had left. The day before she died, she said ‘I don’t think I will be here tomorrow’.”

Becky said that despite her sister appearing to know her fate, it was still a shock when she died. “Nothing can prepare you for that. It was such a shock. It is such a shame. We didn’t even have enough time to get used to her new name.”

Gemma had married her partner Ben Greenwood at Pendleside Hospice in Burnley, Lancashire two days before her death.
Gemma, from Middleton, Greater Manchester, first went to her doctor in the spring of 2015.

The 37-year-old had visited a number of GPs and walk-in centres over a ten month period before her diagnosis but could not get answers. It was not until April 2016, after repeated visits to GP practices in NHS Greater Manchester and NHS England North, that Gemma was finally referred to a consultant.

Speaking earlier this month Becky described what Gemma was going through. She said: “She was going to the GP in pain and she was filling cups full of blood. They kept telling her nothing was wrong and they couldn’t find anything. If the cancer was caught sooner it would have been operated on sooner.”

Gemma’s funeral will take place in Haslingden, Lancashire, where she lived, on Monday January 7.

NHS England has been approached for comment.

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New study finds chemotherapy causes cancer to spread

There are two types of cancer treatment:

  • Local therapy: Treatments directed at the cancerous anatomic areas, such as surgery, radiation therapy, and hyperthermia therapy.
  • Systemic therapy: The use of drugs, introduced into the blood stream, and therefore in principle is able to address cancer at any anatomic location in the body, e.g., hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is a type of systemic treatment for cancer which uses cytotoxic drugs, i.e., intracellular poisons, to shrink cancerous tumors by inhibiting mitosis, the process of cell division, eventually leading to cell death. The problem is the cytotoxic drugs don’t just kill cancer cells but also damage normal cells, especially cells that divide rapidly and are thus sensitive to anti-mitotic drugs: cells in the bone marrow, digestive tract and hair follicles. This results in the most common side-effects of chemotherapy: myelosuppression (decreased production of blood cells, hence also immunosuppression), mucositis (inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract), and alopecia (hair loss).
But a new study has found something even worse and truly perverse about chemotherapy: Although it shrinks cancerous tumors, chemotherapy actually spreads (or metastasizes) cancer throughout the patient’s body.
The team of 16 scientists — led by Dr. George S. Karagiannis, a post-doc at the Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York — published their findings, “Neoadjuvant chemotherapy induces breast cancer metastasis through a TMEM-mediated mechanism,” in the peer-reviewed journal, Science Translational Medicine, vol. 9, issue 397, July 5, 2017.
Although the study was conducted on breast cancer, logically the findings should apply to other cancers as well, especially in view of the fact that breast cancer is one of the most common types of (cancerous) tumors.

malignant breast cancer cells


Karagiannis et al. focused their study on a group of cells called tumor microenvironment of metastasis (TMEM), which serve as gateways for cancerous tumor cells to enter the vasculature or circulatory system.

The scientists discovered that, in addition to killing tumor cells, chemotherapy treatment can increase the amounts of TMEM, leading to increased intravasation — the entrance and circulation of foreign material (cancerous cells) into the bloodstream.
Here’s the article’s Abstract:

Breast cancer cells disseminate through TIE2/MENACalc/MENAINV-dependent cancer cell intravasation sites, called tumor microenvironment of metastasis (TMEM), which are clinically validated as prognostic markers of metastasis in breast cancer patients. Using fixed tissue and intravital imaging of a PyMT murine model and patient-derived xenografts, we show that chemotherapy increases the density and activity of TMEM sites and Mena expression* and promotes distant metastasis. Moreover, in the residual breast cancers of patients treated with neoadjuvant paclitaxel after doxorubicin plus cyclophosphamide, TMEM score and its mechanistically connected MENAINV isoform expression pattern were both increased, suggesting that chemotherapy, despite decreasing tumor size, increases the risk of metastatic dissemination. Chemotherapy-induced TMEM activity and cancer cell dissemination were reversed by either administration of the TIE2 inhibitor rebastinib or knockdown of the MENA gene. Our results indicate that TMEM score increases and MENA isoform expression pattern changes with chemotherapy and can be used in predicting prometastatic changes in response to chemotherapy. Furthermore, inhibitors of TMEM function may improve clinical benefits of chemotherapy in the neoadjuvant setting or in metastatic disease.

*Note: “Mena expression” refers to the Mena protein, a key potentiator and modulator of cellular migration and, therefore, is a prometastatic factor.

The scientists do have one piece of good news: They found that a drug called rebastinib can interfere with TMEM activity and help overcome chemotherapy’s increased risk of cancer cell metastasis or dissemination.
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~Eowyn

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