For more than three years now, I have been working as a patient advocate for those with HPV-related conditions. During that time I have heard the stories of dozens of women (and men) whose conditions were misdiagnosed until such time as progressive symptoms forced further diagnostic work-up which usually involved a biopsy.
It was then that these individuals received their true diagnoses, or should I say had their misdiagnoses corrected. These diagnoses were typically either anal cancer or cervical cancer.
Most people, whether they deal with cancer or not, are aware that the earlier a cancer diagnosis is made, the more likely the patient is to survive and the longer that survival will last.
Dr. Jean Papillon, a specialist from France developed a procedure for the application of brachytherapy in the treatment of various types of cancer. One of these cancers is anal.
He has done dozens of research studies, one of which is referenced in this article. All of Dr. Papillon’s research in this area regarding anal cancer call for a break between the patient’s receiving external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy.
This recommendation was based on his research, which involved 221 patients, each who received a two-month break before receiving the brachytherapy.
In my case of HPV-induced anal cancer in 2009 I did not receive a two-month break. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even receive a one-week break but only five days. The purpose for this break is to prevent necrosis (death) of the normal tissue while being able to kill off as much cancer as possible
This lack of a break lends itself to just the opposite. It resulted in my case, in entire loss of the anal sphincter which is a permanent and life-long condition whose only option for repair is that of a colostomy.
I have seen similar situations with other patients but can speak first-hand when I say that when doctors deal with any patients, but particularly when it comes to treating cancer patients, making mistakes is simply not an option. We all make mistakes, however this isn’t an area in which it can nor should be considered acceptale.