Intended for healthcare professionals


Sucked into the Herceptin maelstrom

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 04 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:18
  1. Jane Keidan, consultant haematologist
  1. 1Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn NHS Trust
  1. Jane.Keidan{at} Breast cancer patient and doctor Jane Keidan
    narrowly escaped being turned into a media star when campaigning to get prescribed Herceptin. Is this what patients seeking best treatment are now driven to?

    I was diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer in August 2005. Before my diagnosis, I had little knowledge of the modern management of breast cancer and, like many patients, used online resources for information. The Breast Cancer Care website was running a campaign to make Herceptin (trastuzumab) available to all HER2+ women and I signed up. I simply could not understand from the data presented on the website and in the media why such an effective agent should be denied to women who, if they relapsed, would receive it anyway. The logic seemed flawed. I wrote letters to everyone—both primary care trusts (PCTs) in the area, the chair of policy at the Cancer Network, my member of parliament, the prime minister, the chief executives of the strategic health authority and the hospital trust—asking when and if the drug would be made available to me and other HER2+ women.

    In the meantime, I was contacted by the Sun newspaper, whose health editor was championing the Herceptin campaign. She was interested in my story—I was both a doctor and a “cancer victim”—and …

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