Teenage girl who weighed just six stone wrongly diagnosed with eating disorder when she had a deadly brain tumour
A teenager weighing just six stone was wrongly diagnosed as an anorexic by doctors when she actually had a potentially deadly brain tumour.
Nichole Bain, 19, was suffering from severe headaches and sickness when she visited her GP in Blackburn, Lancashire. At the time she had to wear clothes that normally fit an 11-year-old, and her doctor mistakenly thought she had an eating disorder.
When her symptoms failed to go away, Miss Bain sought the opinions of other doctors and she was referred to a neurologist. She was stunned to be told she needed an emergency brain scan, just days before she was due to fly to Turkey on holiday.
Tests showed Miss Bain had a malignant brain tumour the size of a 50p coin – and if she had flown on a plane, the air pressure would likely have exacerbated her condition. Miss Bain underwent an operation to remove the tumour.
She then endured two months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, losing her long hair, before she was finally told that the treatment had been successful.
Her mother Julie Bain, 41, said: ‘We initially got nowhere but all we’re bothered about is seeing Nichole eat again and to know that the tumour has gone. ‘Doctors thought she had anorexia or bulimia and each time we went it was different. When the GP said she had anorexia I just thought that a doctor can’t be wrong so accepted it. ‘Now she’s having a brain scan every four months for two years, then every six months for three years, then every year for five years and then every five years after that. ‘There’s still a way to go yet.’
Miss Bain was 15 and weighed 8.5-stone when in December 2008 she began suffering from severe headaches and constant sickness. Her doctor first said she suffered from migraines, then celiac disease and even bizarrely said she was ‘standing up too fast’. She was finally diagnosed with anorexia in April 2009 after her weight dropped to just six stone.
Mrs Bain, who is her daughter’s full-time carer, said: ‘She complained of a bad headache and felt sick and was dizzy and I took her to the doctors.
‘We never saw the same doctor twice so we felt frustrated that we knew something was wrong and they talked to us like we were stupid and gave us painkillers. ‘They always said it may be this, it may be that – they never committed to anything. ‘They even said that she was dizzy because she was standing up too fast. To say that was disgusting. ‘The doctor was about to send her to a psychiatrist about having an eating disorder.’
After months of feeling unwell, Miss Bain started hiding being sick from her parents because she was ashamed and thought it was her fault. Mrs Bain said: ‘All her food came straight back up, she wasn’t getting any nutrition at all. They even said that it may have been something she had eaten or she was allergic to something. ‘I was only after she had the operation and I helped her out the bath that I saw just how skinny she was.’
They went to see another GP who sent her for cognitive and non-cognitive tests. Mrs Bain said: ‘The GP had a feel round Nichole’s neck and she said that she needed an emergency scan. That’s when we said that we were going to go on holiday to Turkey so they got us in for the scan the next day.
‘After the scan we were going to make another appointment and we got told to wait in the treatment room. Then they came in and said, “You’ve got a brain tumour.” We all had a big long cry.’
Miss Bain was admitted to Manchester Children’s Hospital where she had an operation to remove the tumour. When she came round doctors said that they had taken out 99 per cent of the tumour; the rest was destroyed by chemotherapy.
She had to go through six weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy before a more intensive treatment called ‘packer regime’ – before her appetite came back with a vengeance.
Since the operation, Miss Bain has had double vision in her eyes and has to have Botox injected into them to make them straight, and also has to have intensive physio to help her walk properly again.
NHS patients are refused ‘too expensive’ prostate cancer drug
A life-extending drug hailed as a breakthrough for prostate cancer sufferers and used to treat Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is ‘too expensive’ to be taken on the NHS.
Cabazitaxel, which is marketed as Jevtana, can extend the life of late-stage patients by an average of three months.
Libyan terrorist al-Megrahi, 60, is taking the drug and has survived for three years after he was released on compassionate grounds from a Scottish prison after a doctor said he had only three months to live.
But the NHS rationing body, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), today said it is not value for money despite admitting it works. Nice confirmed its original decision in January, rejecting an appeal by the drug’s manufacturers Sanofi.
But cancer charities said the decision could mean a postcode lottery and effectively prevent thousands of men from accessing life-extending treatment.
Each year around 37,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer and 10,000 die from the disease. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in men, accounting for 13 per cent.
Nice said that while the drug is clinically effective, at £22,000 per patient it does not offer value for money for the NHS, and there are concerns over side-effects.
Nice chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said: ‘We need to be sure that new treatments provide sufficient benefits to patients to justify the significant resources the NHS would need to make available.
‘Although cabazitaxel can extend life for some patients, its price remains well above what the independent committee appraising this drug considered acceptable, given the benefits it offers. ‘Cabazitaxel is also associated with a number of side effects, and the committee was concerned about the nature of the health-related quality of life information provided by the manufacturer.’
Whenever a new drug is made available, the money to fund it has to come from elsewhere in the NHS. Nice said it must look at the benefit for patients the NHS can get for the money the drug company is asking.
But Professor Jonathan Waxman of Imperial College London said the cost argument was false. He said: ‘This decision seeks to limit what we as clinicians can do for our patients and their families. ‘The cost argument on which Nice bases their decision is false, giving a much higher estimate of true cost than applies in reality.
‘As a result, yet another successful and effective cancer treatment is denied our patients, a mortifying blow to cancer care in England.
‘As the only route to access is now the Cancer Drugs Fund, a temporary arrangement that operates very differently around the country, I fear we’re heading towards a re-emergence of the postcode lottery.’
Emma Malcolm, chief executive of the charity Prostate Action, said: ‘Cabazitaxel is one of only two licensed drugs available in the UK that offers the hope of precious extra time and quality of life benefits to men living with advanced prostate cancer.
‘Nice’s decision not to recommend this drug means that men in England with advanced prostate cancer have to access it through the Cancer Drugs Fund. ‘We know that there are inconsistencies across the country with how this fund is awarded, which means some men will only be able to access one of these drugs in some areas.
‘Men with advanced prostate cancer have so few treatment options available to them that they should be able to access both of these new treatments.”
The Cancer Drugs Fund, set up in 2010 to allow access to drugs rejected by Nice or not yet licensed, is only available until 2014 and only applies in England.
Prostate cancer patients are also waiting for Nice to issue their decision on abiraterone, another life-extending treatment, which is due soon.
More British school madness: Schools are deliberately failing to correct spelling mistakes to avoid ‘damaging pupils’ self esteem’
Teachers are being told not to correct more than three spelling errors at a time to avoid damaging pupils’ self-confidence, an MP revealed yesterday. Andrew Selous highlighted the practice at a secondary school in his South West Bedfordshire constituency but fears it is widespread across the country.
The Tory MP condemned not correcting all errors in a piece of work as a ‘false kindness’ which denies pupils ‘fundamental’ skills needed in the job market. Mr Selous said he had been alerted by a worried mother but had decided not to name the school behind the policy.
In a letter, she told him: ‘I have spent hours of frustration letter-writing but no one is able to help or offer support. ‘My children are hard-working but they need to be given the basic building blocks of English.’
The school’s marking policy states: ‘Teaching staff are not to highlight any more than three incorrect spellings on any piece of work. This is in order that the children’s self-confidence is not damaged.’
Mr Selous said: ‘We are not kind to children if we do not correct their use of language because it is one of the most fundamental blocks of any civilised society. ‘There are probably thousands of schools that have got this policy but it’s a false kindness and we are letting our children down.’
Earlier in the Commons, Mr Selous called for a debate on the issue. He told MPs that the Coalition would ‘not be keen’ to continue the leniency. Commons Leader Sir George Young replied: ‘It does sound like political correctness taken to excess. I am sure it is in the child’s interests for any spelling mistake to be put right at an early stage.’ He said he hoped the policy of giving more autonomy to head teachers would stop problems with spelling ‘festering’.
Mr Selous was backed by comments on the Mumsnet website. One mother told how her children’s primary school limits corrections because ‘too much red pen is discouraging’. She said: ‘Surely it would be better to focus on encouraging them to spell correctly and making them feel proud of their work. Copying out a spelling mistake three times was how I improved.’
Coalition reforms will mean stricter marking on spelling and grammar in GCSEs and a new test for 11-year-olds.
Hope for thousands who suffer migraines as treatment involving botox is given the green light
Thousands of patients who suffer from migraines will be offered Botox injections on the NHS. A U-turn by the drugs rationing body NICE yesterday brought provisional approval of the treatment, which combats headaches, nausea and dizziness.
Only patients diagnosed as suffering from chronic migraines will be eligible – 700,000 in the UK. This is defined as having a headache at least every other day, with a full-blown migraine with dizziness and nausea on eight days of the month.
The procedure involves administering 30 injections of Botox, or botulinum toxin, into the head and neck. Although it is normally used to smooth wrinkles, it is also a muscle relaxant and is thought to paralyse certain areas of tissue that trigger migraines.
In guidelines published in February, NICE initially claimed there was not enough evidence the jabs worked. But it has changed its mind, and final guidelines approving them are expected in June.
The treatments cost £350 a time. Given every three months, it works out at £1,400 per patient a year.
Wendy Thomas, chief executive of The Migraine Trust, said: ‘Chronic migraine is a disabling condition and in many cases ruins people’s lives. ‘For patients who suffer from this condition Botox may offer a safe and effective preventative treatment option to help them manage their migraine and improve their quality of life. ‘We welcome the recommendation for this treatment option to be made available on the NHS.’
Professor Carole Longson, director of the Health Technology Evaluation Centre at NICE said: ‘Chronic migraines are extremely debilitating and can significantly affect a person’s quality of life.
‘We are pleased that the committee has been able to recommend Botox as a preventative therapy for those adults whose headaches have not improved despite trying at least three other medications and whose headaches are not caused by medication overuse.’
The effectiveness of Botox was only discovered in the early 1990s when women in the US having jabs to smooth out wrinkles noticed their headaches and migraines ceased.
A group of doctors at Wake Forest University Hospital Baptist Centre in North Carolina carried out trials which showed 92 per cent success rates.
Researchers in London have also carried out several clinical trials which have reported 70 per cent of patients suffered 50 per cent fewer migraines.