Judy Caldwell speaks out
A leading cancer campaigner from British Columbia which has some of the highest success rates with breast cancer treatment has said that controversies in Ireland around breast cancer diagnosis and treatment will persist as long as women continue to be treated at non specialist centres. Judy Caldwell, founder of the Canadian Breast Cancer Campaign, also said that Irish politicians who oppose centralisation of cancer treatment should face the wrath of voters in the next elections.
Speaking at the September 08 breast cancer conference ‘Surviving Breast Cancer’ Ms Caldwell said the ongoing controversy of another misdiagnosis in Ireland further highlights the urgent need for the public to understand the importance of attending designated specialist breast centres where a multi disciplinary team and triple assessment system are in place.
Ms Caldwell said the families of those who have been affected by breast cancer need to make their voices heard in elections. “Irish women need to back centralised cancer services. Centres with research and all services attached increase your chances of successful treatment and of continuing to live by around 20 per cent.
“These centres provide the Best Care and the Best Chances. Anything else is second rate. Politicians campaigning for centres in every big town are doing victims a disservice. The reality is that a country the size of Ireland can only have a small number of centres of excellence. The Irish plan for eight is probably too many if you compare with British Columbia which is 13 times bigger than Ireland but only has four centres and will move to five in time but that will be sufficient.
“The inconvenience of this is enormous and painful but it is a life and death choice and I think people should choose life every time. Supports need to be in place for people to travel and be accommodated but failures in these areas are not a good reason for non specialist breast cancer treatment centres to be masquerading as centres of excellence.
“With breast cancer, you need to get the very best healthcare you can. It is a life and death decision. In Canada, women and their families have understood and benefited from the decisions made to have a small number of centres of excellence. The travel distances are huge and the inconvenience enormous but the outcomes make it worthwhile.”
Christine Murphy-Whyte, Chairperson of Europa Donna Ireland said;
“The National Cancer Registry shows that 25,000 women are living in Ireland following a diagnosis of breast cancer and as a result survivorship issues are becoming more important for patient advocates.
“The two recent misdiagnoses in Ennis, on top of last year's debacle, underline yet again how dangerous this disease is and how important it is not to cut corners with breast cancer treatment. Our conference will be of interest and useful to all with an interest in breast cancer in Ireland and will present an opportunity to raise and discuss issues around follow-up."