local or specialist hospital for treatment??


I am new to this forum and newly diagnosed with grade 2 ductal breast cancer. I have had tests during last two weeks and now told I need a mastectomy as I have several (small) tumours in my left breast - two of which have been biopsied with the diagnosis being malignant.  My deliberation is whether to continue with my local hospital - which I have little confidence in, or be referred to a specialist hospital in London (e.g Royal Marsden) but this would mean a delay of at least two weeks.  My lack of confidence in my local (North London) hospital is due to them not picking this up earlier.  I was seen by them in March and told there was nothing to worry about - they could feel no lumps and said that as I had had my routine mammogram the previous August (and I assume that was clear) then no further tests were needed.  This despite very obvious visible changes to the breast - dimpling and nipple being pulled inwards.

I would really like to hear from anyone who has been or is being seen at the Royal Marsden and what your views are on the services they provide.  Also whether delaying things by a couple of weeks will make any difference.  My local hospital says that my surgery won’t be for 3-4 weeks anyway.

Any views on my situation would be greatly appreciated.

many thanks

Hello Ancross

Welcome to the forums. I’m sorry to hear of your diagnosis, the first few weeks are always difficult when coming to terms with your diagnosis and treatment.
As well as the support you will receive on the forums you might find it helpful to order the BCC resources pack. It has been specifically designed for those newly diagnosed and contains information to help you understand your diagnosis, test results and the various treatments available. If you would like to order a copy just follow the link bellow:-

You may also like to talk things through with one of the helpline staff, they are there to offer emotional support as well as provide information. The free phone number is 0808 800 6000 and lines are open 9-5 Monday to Friday and 10-2 Saturday.

Best wishes

June, moderator

Hi Ancross,
Welcome to the forum - sorry to hear about the last few weeks/months re diagnosis/tests.
Can fully understand your concern about your hospital re the first tests etc…I just wonder, did you ask the specialists why they didn’t/couldn’t pick up any small lumps or changes in your tests back in March? If you haven’t done so it may be worth asking just in case they can provide some explanation.

I had op at local E London hospital - I had to wait 3-4 weeks though to be honest I think I needed the time since I had unusually bad bruising after the core biopsy. I then had radio which was at Barts…so daily treks there to be zapped. I thought Barts was great re radio facilities/staff/approach.

You might want to check if you were to request treatment/op at one of the central London hospitals, whether, if you were to need any other treatment, this would be also be provided in central London or more locally. It can get tiring travelling to and fro daily through treatment although I understand it can vary between people. I chose my route based around where I felt I was least likely to get knocked on busy public transport! It was either that or a Madonna bra as armour protection! Batman cape also helped keep people away from my sore side on the tube.

I guess at the end of the day going through treatment does push us all, and if you have faith in your team or surgeon etc it will help since it’s one less thing to worry about.

Hope that helps - good luck with your decision making…


Hi Ancross,


I really wish I’d had the presence of mind to ask your question when I was diagnosed in May.


I just assumed you “got what you were given” - if the GP referred you to the local hospital, then that was where you had your treatment. I had no idea you can request your GP to refer you basically anywhere on the NHS.


I was referred to my local (E London) hospital, and while I think they were perfectly decent medically, the rest of the experience was horrible - poor communication, rude staff, cancelled appointments, bureacratic mix-ups. From the start I had a bad gut feeling about the place, but just assumed I couldn’t do anything about it. And also was so freaked out by the whole situation I just wanted to get everything done quickly. I’d also had no experience (thankfully) of hospitals, and just assumed that’s what NHS hospitals were like.


I’ve since been referred to one of the big central London hospitals (not the Royal Marsden) for my follow-ups, and work on my reconstruction, and I can’t believe the difference. So - really - trust your gut feeling, if you have little faith in your local hospital, ask to be referred somewhere else. i didn’t even need to make an appointment with my GP - just a quick chat on the phone.


Also - if you are planning on an immediate reconstruction - really consider being referred to a surgeon with a well-documented, good reputation. I have a fab plastic surgeon now, but my original reconstruction failed. Don’t know how much that was down to bad luck, and how much down to a surgeon lacking the skills - but there were a number of red flags I wish I’d heeded at the time.


As far as the delay goes - I had a holiday booked right after my diagnosis - and my surgeon said a couple of weeks’ delay in my treatment would make no difference. Of course check though that would be the same in your case - we’re all different.


Good luck with whatever you decide - and all the very best to you.


Greenleaf x