Women who carry a faulty gene that increases their risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer may face a delay of up to four years for surgery, a conference was told yesterday.
Omens and men wanting to know if they have the gene can wait two years or more to even get a diagnosis.
Their plight was revealed at a conference organized by the Marie Keating Foundation for people affected by the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
A growing number of women are choosing to take action and undergo a double mastectomy and reconstruction — or removal of their ovaries — to reduce their risk. However, they have to endure delays in public hospitals.
The conference heard that due to the impact of Covid and longstanding underfunding in the public system, there are long waits for genetic testing and reconstructive surgery, with some patients having to wait two to four years.
The organisation’s director of nursing services, Helen Forristal, said: “As a genetic change passed down family lines, a BRCA gene significantly increases a person’s risk of developing cancer over the course of their lifetime.
“Having this information and then being told you could wait up to two years or more creates undue emotional distress and uncertainty for this already vulnerable community.”
She said her voluntary peer-to-peer support service, as well as the annual BRCA conference, are vital, adding that they have seen an increase in demand for information with a 700 percent increase in membership over the past two years .
The conference heard moving testimonies from members of families who have mutant BRCA. They told about the stress this causes, as well as the loss of loved ones.
It’s also been heard from women who have faced the heartbreaking decision to undergo preventative surgery to remove their breasts and ovaries.
The gene can be inherited from a mother or father, the conference was told.
Delays in surgeries have been exacerbated by the hospital disruptions caused by Covid-19.
Separately, the Irish Cancer Society has expressed serious concern about long waiting lists for colonoscopies that can detect colorectal cancer – 15,674 people who are referred for a routine colonoscopy have to wait more than 13 weeks.
St Vincent’s Hospital gastroenterologist Prof Glen Doherty said some patients who have been unwell for some time are now coming in with very large and advanced colon tumors – some via emergency rooms.
People with colorectal cancer could be lost in the backlog of routine referrals, Prof. Doherty said.
He added that anyone on a waiting list whose symptoms have worsened should go back to their GP and they may need treatment quickly.
Meanwhile, in a significant move, daily Covid-19 figures are no longer issued by the Ministry of Health – 378 Covid patients were in hospitals yesterday, including 39 in intensive care.
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/women-with-rare-cancer-gene-waiting-up-to-four-years-for-op-41602211.html Women with a rare cancer gene can wait up to four years for surgery