Blast from the past: a cautionary taleBMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7329.121 (Published 12 January 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:121
- Denise Adams, general practitioner
- Newcastle upon Tyne
When I was 41 I discovered that I had hyperparathyroidism and papillary carcinoma of the thyroid. Three years later I was treated for breast cancer. Fortunately I was cured of both cancers. However, as a consequence of the treatment I developed a debilitating proximal myopathy and have been left with poor control of my calcium metabolism caused by lack of parathyroid hormone. People tend to assume that I must have “bad genes,” but unpalatable as it is there was an avoidable cause for all these illnesses.
Remember that there is no dose of radiation that is risk-free
I was born in the United States in 1955 and by the age of 4 months had developed a strawberry naevus on my neck. I had a series of radiation treatments to my birthmark during the following year. The decision to treat me was not based on good evidence and was made within a culture that believed radiotherapy was safe and effective despite accumulating evidence to the contrary. The fact that my birthmark was a benign, self …