Letter - Blood test policy needs changing

On August 24 2012, my wife, Lesley, my daughter and me moved to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. At the end of July Lesley had had her annual mammogram at Pinderfields, following the successful treatment of her breast cancer in 2008/9. The mammogram was clear.

In October Lesley began to feel unwell and the blood test she had on the 17th showed she had a severe blood disorder. Unfortunately, this turned out to be Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia and my wife died of a related brain haemorrhage very shortly after the diagnosis in Jeddah.

When I asked Pinderfields why they did not offer patients blood tests as well as mammograms, I was told that it would create too much ‘angst’ for the ladies concerned.

Well, I would rather my wife had had the ‘angst’ and had a blood test especially as the Leukemia research website states that: ‘the risk of developing APL is increased following the use of certain types of chemotherapy or radiotherapy for treatment of other cancers.’

Will Pinderfields change its policy in this respect and help to prevent similar tragedies occurring, similar to the one that befell my wife?

Paul Franks

Jeddah, formerly of Horbury and Ossett

Dr Richard Jenkins, Medical Director at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “I would like to offer my deepest sympathies to Mr Franks and his family for their sad loss.

“We ensure our practice is in line with national clinical guidelines which do not recommend routine testing of blood counts following chemotherapy for breast cancer. This is because Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia (APL) is a rare condition with studies showing it to affect about 4 in 1,000 patients over a total follow-up period of eight years.

“This means that following up 1,000 women for eight years would detect four cases. Furthermore, APL develops over a very short period of time and sadly it would be unlikely that having a blood test even three months prior to the onset of symptoms would have shown the disease to be present.

“If Mr Franks wishes, we would be very happy to discuss this with him.”