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DPD Tests for Cancer Patients

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Cancer patients beginning treatment are not made aware of a silent condition called DPD, which means chemotherapy drugs could be potentially lethal to them. In light of the 1 in 3 cancer statistics, we must make the NHS inform all patients of this potential risk before beginning treatment.

Late December, I Iost my mother in law Janet North. She had been diagnosed with the very early stages of oesophageal cancer but was killed by the chemotherapy drugs designed to save her life. Fighting fit and positive of the outcome, it took just one month from starting her cancer treatment to her premature death. 

Janet had a condition called DPD, which could have been diagnosed with a medical test costing just £50 which we would paid without question. This would have steered her course to alternative treatment, but the information was never available to her, to us her family and in the end it took her life. Imagine the harrowing end that her family faced when the decision was made to switch off her life support.... I had to do something.

We need to change patient awareness of DPD and make the NHS obligated to tell patients of this risk. All cancer suffers should be educated and given the option to pay for a test to diagnose this deficiency, which is not undertaken when a patient begins treatment.

Although losing a life is a rare occurrence, DPD is responsible for horrible side effects from chemotherapy drugs as it attacks the patient instead of the cancer cells. Janet's stomach and upper intestines were burned almost irreparably, leaving her in an induced coma, finally suffering a heart attack which rendered her unconscious.  

With alarming statistics in our newspapers, it seems inevitable that members of our families and friends will suffer cancer at some stage in their lives. 

The cancer statistics for 2011 show 331,487 patients suffering cancer of which means between 9945 to 19889 people could be suffering from DPD and reacting badly to chemotherapy drugs due to this reaction.

THIS PERSON COULD BE YOU. 

 

What is DPD Deficiency? (**from the NHS website)

DPD stands for dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase. It is an enzyme our bodies make that helps us process thymine and uracil, which make up part of the structure of our genes. DPD also helps us break down the chemotherapy drugs fluorouracil and capecitabine. If you have low levels (a deficiency) of DPD you are more likely to have severe side effects from these chemotherapy drugs. Without DPD, the chemotherapy drug builds up in the body. It then causes more severe side effects than usual. The effects include -

Lowering the number of blood cells available causing increased risk of infections, anaemia, bleeding and bruising
Diarrhoea
A sore mouth
Feeling and being sick
Rarely, people can die from these effects.

It is very rare to have no DPD (complete deficiency). It is slightly more common to have low or very low levels (partial or slight deficiency). We know from research that between 3 and 6 out of every 100 people (3 to 6%) have partial DPD deficiency.

A lack of DPD doesn’t cause symptoms so you won’t know if you have a deficiency.

 

 



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