A mum who claims her GP said she was too young for emergency screening after finding a lump in her breast is campaigning for all ages to be treated the same.
Rebecca Allon said she visited her doctor in December 2020, aged 28, but was told she would not be given an emergency appointment due to being under 30 years of age.
The mum-of-two, from Kingston-Upon-Hull, East Yorkshire, claims that because she had no previous family history of cancer she did not qualify to be seen within two weeks.
Hairdresser Rebecca was able to use medical insurance for private care at Spire Hospital in January last year, where she had an ultrasound scan and three biopsies.
A week later she was diagnosed with stage three ductal carcinoma – a common form of breast cancer that starts in cells that line the milk ducts.
Rebecca required a mastectomy, as well as six cycles of chemotherapy and daily radiotherapy for three weeks.
She will have to have another mastectomy, as well as removal of her ovaries after doctors discovered she carries the BRCA2 gene.
Now, aged 29, Rebecca wants the guidelines to be changed so that people of all ages that find lumps will be given urgent medical screening.
Last week, Rebecca launched a Change.org petition asking NHS England to “scrap the under 30 guide” and treat everybody the same.
“In December 2020, I went to my local GP regarding a lump I had found in my right breast,” she said.
“I was told a referral would be made to the breast clinic but as I was only 28 and under the age of 30, with no family history of breast cancer, I didn’t meet the criteria for the emergency two week wait. Hideous.
“After a week I discovered a second lump under my right arm.
“I again contacted my GP to see if we could speed the referral up, in which I was told there was nothing that could be done and I would have to wait for an appointment.
“I have undergone operations, months of chemotherapy, weeks of radiotherapy and I’m still not done.
“We also discovered I have the BRCA2 gene.
“So my petition is simple: allow everyone to be treated the same.
“Why should it matter if you’re under 30?
“This needs to change. Had I not gone private, this could have been a very different and devastating story.
“I have a three and four-year-old to care for and they could have easily lost their mummy this year, all because I am under 30.”
Rebecca claims she received a letter for an NHS breast screening appointment at the end of January last year – a week before her first operation to remove the cancer.
Her petition has already gained over 1,600 signatures from members of the public who left messages of support.
Gail Barker said: “Everyone should have equal rights to healthcare no matter what their age is. Age category is wrong and unfair.”
Cheryl Payne said: “No young woman should have to go through this.”
Steve Glover said: “It’s terrible that too many women have to wait for cancer treatment.”
Jennie Rudkin said: “No matter what age, they should have the same rights as anyone else.
“I was diagnosed at 47 and there are lots of young girls in my breast cancer group who have been treated the same as this young lady.”
Allison Cairney said: “It beggars belief that age determines your right to the same healthcare as your elder.”
Julie Diggin said: “Nobody should have to wait for a prognosis, regardless of age or gender. Wishing this lovely lady a full recovery.”
Speaking today, Rebecca said: “This could have been so much worse had I waited for the NHS to see me.
“It was already in my lymph nodes and it could have easily carried it around my body.
“All because I was under 30-years-old.
“Everything went really quickly and I’m still fighting the side effects of the chemo and radiotherapy, but I’m determined to keep going and to get this under 30 criteria scrapped.
“I wanted to start this petition so much earlier but have just been too poorly.
“I’m ready to shout about this now.
“This under 30 criteria needs scrapping and younger adults need equal rights.
“It’s really heartbreaking.”
Women who are younger than 50, are said to be less at risk of breast cancer.
Mammograms are more difficult to read in younger women because their breast tissue is denser so the patterns on the mammogram don’t show up as well.
The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can usually offer protection from cancer however there is an increase in the chance of developing cancer if the genes mutate and split.