Edmund died on the 8th May 2013, after being diagnosed with lung cancer on the 5th April.
He had been seen by a GP on the 27th December 2012 for a painful left knee, which he had had for a number of weeks (we have recently learnt that this can be a sign of lung cancer). A blood pressure test was done. The doctor suggested it might be bursitis and gave him antibiotics. Imagine the extra chance he would have had if a simple lymph node check had been done at that time.
A cough then started around 5th February 2013. Three weeks later Edmund saw his GP, who prescribed him antibiotics. The GP could have done the lymph node test, which again might have given Edmund more time.
It was two weeks after his breathlessness started that he entered A&E on 1st April and the neck lymph nodes were the first thing the doctors looked for. The doctor mentioned the small lumps to Edmund who said; yes I have had that lentil size lump for about 6 months. In fact the doctors were talking about another one which was pea sized.
Edmund was denied chemotherapy because by the time the various results were in he had become too weak for it. How much better would his chances have been with an extra 5 weeks of knowledge, or even better still with an extra 14 weeks?
Many other patients may have received an earlier diagnosis if this had been done as a matter of routine. A biopsy was ordered on Edmund’s admission. Could this earlier diagnosis apply to other cancers that have got into the lymph system, not just lung cancer? What could earlier diagnosis have meant?
2011 figures show that only just 60% of the new patients are able to be treated for lung cancer. The other 40% have palliative care and whatever supports their family and friends can provide.
On the 8th May (the day Edmund died) The Roy Castle Lung Cancer charity started running a campaign to help earlier diagnosis and it runs until the end of August. This is to educate the public to go to their doctor if they have a persistent cough for 3 weeks.
Please insist that doctors who see these patients also do this very quick and easy check to enable earlier diagnosis and help to reduce deaths from this terrifying disease.
The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Charity is running a campaign, to encourage people with a cough for 3 weeks to see their GP. Hopefully this will mean than many more people than previously will now seek help from their GP. I see from today’s Daily Mail , link below, that it is now extended to mid August.
This puts an ‘immediate action required’ on my petition. We need this in place immediately so that these patients receive this vital check for them on that first visit. Earlier detection gives them a reasonable chance for survival at best or improved palliative care at worst. This article suggests your acknowledgment of this.
Edmund received no palliative care when admitted to the hospice on the night he died. The nurse was not authorised to give medication without the doctor’s’ prescription. But the doctor didn’t arrive for about 20minutes, then tried unsuccessfully to insert a needle and seek other solutions, which took a further hour. He then went away to phone the consultant for advice. Meanwhile, Edmund was desperately gasping for breath with an increasingly high heart rate. The doctor then returned to tell us that he was to give palliative care, but Edmund had died whilst he was out of the room.
After he died, the hospice was asked why he had not received a morphine injection to ease the suffering in his final hour. Their response was that the nurse did not receive a prescription at any stage and that it all happened too quickly so they didn’t have enough time to be prepared.
With earlier diagnosis hopefully this will have meant that the hospice would have been better prepared to give him the palliative care he needed, or that a home hospice could have been arranged.
As the NHS is so vast and not able to respond quickly enough in such circumstances, what is needed is earlier diagnosis. Every tool available for this must be used, and this is a simple and quick check for every GP to do. If it had been done on 27th December when his blood pressure was taken by the doctor she would have found the lump before any coughing symptoms arose. Who knows whether that would just have given extra time for correct palliative or even the opportunity for chemo?
Please help us to ensure no one else has die the way Edmund did. Give everyone the opportunity of a longer and less distressing post-diagnosis period.