Petition for full body scans on NHS before cancer 'all clear' - after Leeds woman's heartbreaking story

More than 30,000 people have signed a petition to change NHS practice to give cancer patients a full body scan before being given the 'all clear'.

Friday, 22nd November 2019, 3:33 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd November 2019, 3:34 pm
Gemma Sisson was diagnosed with incurable secondary cancer just months after being given a verdict that there was 'no evidence of active disease'

The petition was launched by a friend of Gemma Sisson, who was diagnosed with incurable secondary cancer just months after being given a verdict that there was 'no evidence of active disease'.

38-year-old Gemma, who lives in Leeds, was first diagnosed with pelvic cancer in 2018 and after a course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy she was given the 'no active disease' verdict in January 2019.

This verdict was given following the standard NHS practice of re-scanning the area where the cancer was originally identified - instead of a full body scan to detect any spread of the disease.

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Gemma Sisson was diagnosed with incurable secondary cancer just months after being given a verdict that there was 'no evidence of active disease'

Sadly, in August 2019 Gemma was diagnosed with incurable secondary cancer in her spine, which had caused her vertebrae to collapse, and her liver and stomach.

Gemma will undergo chemotherapy every three weeks until the cancer ultimately takes her life.

Daniel Clark-Bland, who launched the petition to the NHS, said that if Gemma had received a full body scan in January 2019 her secondary cancer may have been diagnosed much earlier.

Under current NHS practice, not all cancer patients receive full-body scans before an 'all clear' verdict due to funding restrictions and the potential harmful effects of the scans.

The petition is close to reaching its target of 35,000 signatures and thousands of people have sent Gemma messages of support

But Daniel accepts that this check may not be a full-body scan for all patients and could include other diagnostic tools such as a PET scan.

The 34-year-old said: "At this stage we are unwilling to accept that no change to the process is the right thing.

"We are really encouraged to see the petition has progressed at the rate that it has.

"We are looking forward to the results of the General Election when we will find out who the new health secretary is - engaging with them directly on the next appropriate steps.”

Daniel, who lives in Leeds, met Gemma when they were working as project managers over 10 years ago and he supported her through her first diagnosis and treatment.

He added: "This time we are determined to make a lasting positive change. We’d love people to sign, share and talk about the topic.

“Once the General Election has concluded we will be issuing some calls to action for people who signed the petition. Reading the comments, it demonstrates this issue is more common than it’s not.”

The petition, on Change.org, is close to reaching its target of 35,000 signatures and thousands of people have sent Gemma messages of support, with others sharing similar experiences of a missed diagnosis.

NHS England was contacted for comment.