Geoff Duke claims his deadly cancer was repeatedly missed when a GP refused to order him for a blood test – telling him ‘tests cost the NHS money’.
Washington man Geoff, 50, was finally – after changing GPs – diagnosed with myeloma. It is a deadly form of blood cancer that kills 3,000 people in the UK every year. Geoff is now in remission, but is still beholden to a cocktail of drugs, and is calling on the government to ensure GPs know more about myeloma.
Geoff, who is a father of four and is expecting a second grandchild this year, says he has been to the doctor several times struggling with chronic back pain and issues like shortness of breath. But he says his GP didn’t think there was anything seriously wrong with him and it took him years and a new GP to be diagnosed. Geoff – who is a patient at Sunderland Royal and has nothing but praise for the staff there – is working with the Myeloma UK charity to raise awareness of the disease among patients and GPs.
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He told ChronicleLive: “I had lived with severe back pain for years – and I kept seeing the doctor and telling them there was really something wrong here. On one occasion I had started a civil service job in Newcastle and really took I had a bad back and felt terrible I had been back and forth with this doctor for years – but he was the type of doctor who would make you stop working and that would be it.
“I knew there was something seriously wrong with my back and I specifically asked the GP for a blood test or CT scan but was told I was getting old the tests were costing the NHS money and that I would have to learn to live with I kept collapsing on the floor so the paramedics were coming and going I couldn’t work I had requested a blood test from several times – I finally decided to change doctors, and because I was a new patient, they wanted some routine blood tests. A few days later, they asked me to come back for another one. had three in a week.
“The new doctor said the hospital had seen the tests and they thought it was possibly myeloma. Based on the blood test, I was in front of a cancer specialist within a week and when they felt the symptoms – severe back pain, shortness of breath for example, I could tick them all off.”
By the time Geoff was diagnosed, his cancer was quite advanced – but the option of a clinical trial meant he had a chance to prolong his life for as long as possible. “They said without that I’d be looking at three years, with that it’d be more like 10 years. Now we’re pretty far down the line and, fingers crossed, I’m on track to break that.”
He said that due to the nature of the disease when it was discovered, he had known he had cancer for a long time. “If I hadn’t changed GPs and had a routine blood test done, it’s quite possible I wouldn’t be here today – that’s the reality.”
Geoff – a huge music fan who still attends concerts when he can – added that he thinks myeloma is the “worst kind of cancer”. “It’s prolonged, there’s no cure,” he said. “There is no alarm bell. When you relapse, you start again. There is no endgame. Even when you are in remission, the underlying cancer is still there. But there is no didn’t take that long to be diagnosed.
“Yes, it’s a rare disease and not many people my age have it, but I’m on a myeloma support group on Facebook and it’s always the same story: people have the same problems – back and bone pain – and they are sent back. If my GP had just done a blood test to rule it out, I could have been treated sooner and could have started the trip sooner. I don’t want to that the same thing happens to other people.
24,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with this form of cancer each year, and although it is the third most common type of blood cancer, myeloma is particularly difficult to diagnose as a symptom. This means that patients frequently experience diagnostic delays. 50% wait more than five months and 34% of patients with myeloma consult their general practitioner at least three times before obtaining a diagnosis.
Myeloma UK has released a report highlighting that Geoff is not an isolated case – with other figures showing that, like Geoff, 49% of patients suffer from “avoidable, life-changing complications” because their cancer is missed. For Geoff, that includes spinal fractures, as he lost mobility, spent time in a wheelchair and had to give up his job.
The charity wants there to be targets for improving myeloma diagnoses. Acting Director of Research and Patient Advocacy Shelagh McKinlay said: “We cannot allow the lives of patients like Geoff to be diminished by…
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This notice was published: 2022-04-06 23:01:00