private treatment

Has anyone any experience of being treated privately for early breast cancer? Did it mean that you didn’t have to wait for so long for test results ?
I don’t have health insurance any longer & feel I have been treated reasonably promptly thus far under the NHS - but would like to hear other people’s experiences & their reasons for opting for private treatment ( more privacy, more time with consultant etc)

I was treated privately. I was able to have my mastectomy3 weeks earlier than if i’d have treatment on NHS but i still had to wait weeks for my pathology report. You get your mammogram results on the same day and my CT scan was prompt - I’d have had to wait over 6 weeks on NHS.
There are good and bad points for each source of treatment. My decision was easy as i was offered different chemo if i went privately. It’s nice to have your own room but apart from the chemo option, there is little to choose between them.

i saw the surgeon two weeks after i saw my GP. I first saw my surgeon on 5th March. Apart from all the different tyes of scans, x-rays blood tests etc i have also had two surgerys as they never got a clear margin with the first. i am now due to get my 3rd fec next week. i think that it has all been quick.

the only bit i didn’t like was sharing a room,(i had my own room the first time, maybe because i was in and out that day and the nurse i had had been through what i was going through.

the second time i was in a ward with others and the woman beside me was a big pain in the ass. she never shut up from 7am until after midnight when a nusre came in and told her to go to sleep. you didn’t have to answer her she just talk talk talk. on the day i was getting out (7 days after surgery this time) this woman HAD to tell me about all the different hospices near my area where there are paly area for my children when i’m in there. i told her i didn’t want to talk about that but she just told me not to worry because thes places are nice places. it wasn’t until i burst out crying that she shut up.

she never had cancer but had a lump big enough for her to have a mastectomy and reconstruction which she took delight in showing her new boob off to others and spoke about getting the other one done and having a new pair off boobs - sorry she still makes me angry.

Because of sharing a room which i hate, if i could afford to have a room to myself i would have but as for the treatment i felt that it has been quick. it was only 4 months ago that i was dx and like i said thats after all sorts of test and 2 surgeries.

would i have been any quicker going private?

I had medical insurance for the 20 years I lived in London. We only used it twice in all that time and when we moved away we started a business so it was £750 a year we figured we could do without spending. We cancelled it and I got BC the following year.

However, the NHS in my area has been excellent. The general surgical ward in the hospital where I was treated has a lot of single occupancy side rooms and the breast surgeons get those for their patients. My surgeon is the head of the clinic and he thinks ladies should be entitled to privacy at such a difficult time. I was very glad to be in a room on my own, but the ladies in the side rooms all met up with each other during the day and went for walks and things, so it wasn’t as if you were on your own. I had day surgery prior to this and was in a ward where they had the TV on all day, it was murder. I loathe TVs in hospitals, when I was an inpatient I never had it on the whole time.

I have medical insurance cover through my husbands company so after I saw my GP on the Friday I went home rang my local private hospital, got an appointment for 10 days later to see a surgeon I had previously seen for something else. I could have seen someone else sooner but chose to see one that I already knew of.

Anyway if I remember correctly he did a needle biopsy there and then on the Tuesday and arranged a mamogram for 2 days later and we decided that I should see him the following Monday to get the results(went in my lunch-hour) He then arranged for a ulta sound biopsy for 2 days later and my WLE was done the following Wednesday.

I did have to travel to a private hospital at Mount Vernon for my chemo which for me was a round trip of about 3-4 hours+ depending on the M25 and I also had my 25 rads there, that was a bit of a pain because of the journey but my husband was given every afternoon off to come with me.

Now whilst I am so grateful for the private treatment there were times especially after the op that as the hospital was quite a small one ( a local one)I didn’t get to see many people and there certainly wasn’t any other breast cancer
patients there, I felt a bit isolated. The BC nurse promised to come and see me in my room but didn’t and once I went home I developed a hemaertona (prob spelt wrong!) and that wasn’t picked up until my stitches were taken up. Whilst I was having chemo there was a few of us in the same room but we all had different cancers and I just wanted to get it done and go home(we always had a 9am slot)

I don’t know what is going to happen when my 5 years are up next year because I don’t know if my cover includes monitoring but I have decided that if necessary I will pay for mamograms and consultations with my Onc and surgeon if I have to.

Would I have paid to go privately if I didn’t have the cover at the beginning, can’t answer that one, don’t know because I would need to see what the NHS options are like and I do think that it varies to where you live.


Hi there,

My husband has private health insurance and I choose to use it because I really thought I would be in and out of the private hsospital in a jiffy. I only had a vague discomfort in the boob and I want to increase my hrt so GP sent me to get it checked. 5 hrs and 5 core biopsies later I left the hospital in a daze! I got the results the following Friday (7 days) with surgery planned for the following Thursday. I was so shocked, too shocked to look on any web site!

Yes the care was quick and I had all my results back within 5 days of surgery and saw the onc that week. Very early tumour, no node involvement. Now in the middle of radiotherapy. All happened so quickly that I felt at times things were being done to my body and I, as a person, was not included. Of course on reflection this was not the case. and actually everyone was lovely.
I had my own room and was only a day case. The bcn has been very supportive with phone calls home and there is also a support group in the hospital. The insurance company cover everything right up to herceptin and 5 yr follow up. I checked this as soon as I had the biopsies done.

I work in the NHS and know that in this area things are pretty speedy if you go the nhs route. I would have not gone privately if my husband didn’t have the insurance and the nhs would have had to pick me up.

I think there is no right or wrong, it’s just a shame that we have to use it for this, but I feel very lucky that my bc was picked up when it was and that I was privileged to have the option of private health care.

Hi there,

My OH has private health insurance through his work and I chose to use it because, having “sat” on the lump for a few months, when I decided to
do something about it I wanted it done quickly! I was 7 days from GP to surgery, having established I had bc. I needed further surgery and got it 10 days later. All tests but bone scan done prior to first surgery.

When I had my bone scan at a different hospital, because I paid £200 I got the results then and there. Other women there had to wait a week for results, which I was annoyed about. If they can give the results for some, they can save the stress for all!

I met an acquaintance in the bone scan waiting area, and she’d been 8 weeks since dx with no treatment, just tests. I can only assume that is the approximate waiting time in our area.

I had a rather bad experience as an emergency patient in our local NHS hospital - and am currently putting together a complaint about that, not for me, but to try and ensure others don’t suffer as I did.

No matter what, I’ll always find the cash for private health insurance. This has already cost my insurance company over £15K and they haven’t grumbled once. They cover me for five years monitoring too

I have private cover through my work and used that to have a quick referal - saw GP Monday was at consultant on Thursday, mammo and US done the Friday and results back the Thursday after that - surgery was booked for the following Friday.

After my surgery the consultant advised that it would be best if I used the NHS for follow-on treatment as I would be under the care of a bigger and better MDT if I was in the NHS.

Private was good for speedy results and the hospital I had my surgery in was lovely. There was however a bit of a break down in the transition between private and NHS and certain things did get missed … like physio!

I’ve been delighted with the care I’ve received under the NHS and the only thing I would say that is a bit of a pain is that the clinics do tend to run over … last month I was more than 2 hours late being taken. I recently had a bone scan which was done on the Tuesday afternoon and the results were available to my GP on the Thursday afternoon.

The BCNurse and the physio assured me that had I not gone private I would probably not have waited much longer for surgery on the NHS.

Hi All

I had private insurance through work.

I saw my GP on Tuesday, saw consultant on Thursday and had op on the Saturday - so only 5 days between finding it and having it removed. I had my chemo private ( different drugs available) but then I had my radiotherapy on NHS which was fine,

At my check ups I see my consultant surgeon and consultant oncologist always - never a registrar.

I thin k the treatment is definitely “Better” but I think the end result is the same as I know the NHS is brill in this situation.

Love to all

Alise x

I had private insurance for cancer,heart disease and stroke.Cover lasts 2 years from 1st claim so expires in October.I was given a date for my op at the clinic where I was dx.I had a private en-suite room and a lovely menu.My op was done by consultant himself and he saw me a few hours after surgery to tell me the size and grade of tumour and that he got clear margins.Rest of pathology results a week later[except her2].The big difference though was the chemo.I got taxotere which i would not have been offered on NHS and Neulasta.I have opted to have all follow up mammos privately because I get results in an hour.Otherwise I will revert to the NHS with confidence when my cover runs out.

hi all
After finding lump i left it for a month then went to Docs, who said that it was defiently not Cancer (yeah right) , but lucky enough he wanted me to have a mammogram and scan decided to go private… I was told that they would contact me with an appt within couple of days after a week i phoned and was told that i should have phoned for an appt. When i went to see the Consultant for the first time, he was 2 hours late, no explaination. Had needle test there and then and 4 days later i had the mammogram and scan went back 2 days later and was told yes it looked serious and that I would need a Core test done. And that he would not have all the results back unitl 8th Aug and this at the time was mid July. So I had a couple of weeks of not really knowing what i was dealing with… Also I have spoke to a couple of people who have gone on the NHS and it seems that they had better aftercare than going private. But again I do agree with Horace that the room and the food was second to none .


I decided to use my private health insurance at referral stage, as GP wasn’t “overly concerned” about my large lump (was breastfeeding) and said I’d possibly have to wait up to 3 months to get checked out following their non-urgent (I assume) referral! I’d already delayed GP visit as I thought lump was down to bf, but was getting more concerned, so went private and got appt within a few weeks (assuming xmas break delayed GP referral!). I had consult (with BC surgeon), check, mammo, ultrasound at initial appt, then consultant advised - there and then - that it was “almost certainly” cancerous. I then had core biopsy, and returned the following day for fine needle / cell biopsy (?) on nodes. Results confirmed within a week and had meeting with oncologist (NHS) and had SNB within further 4 days.

Just had my surgery privately recently and echo what the others say. Care and hospital A1 - more like hotel than hospital with own room, a la carte dining etc. Staff handovers were excellent - each shift change went through each patient case start to finish (mine started from b/f, found lump etc…!) Can be isolating though as didn’t meet any other BC patients. Still to get pathology results (so 2week wait) although as I had chemo already, assume that other than clear margins or not, it will only serve to confirm biopsy status and finalise next treatment stage. Consultations have all been excellent (with BC surgeon, BC nurse present), with plenty time and very patient with qu’s. My surgeon works NHS too, so may have had same one had I not been private!

Had chemo (pre surgery) and will get radiotherapy, both on NHS as its not available privately here. Can’t fault things on NHS either, care and staff have all been great - only (minor) complaint is the long waits at clinics/chemo unit etc.


I have had all of my treatment with the NHS. I have no private health care insurance from choice.

I atended my gp on a Firday lunch time. By 3pm same day the breast clinic had phoned with appt for following thursday ( this is routiene - all lumps must be seen within 2 weeks)

I was seen at the Breast clinic thurday, had FNA, ultrasound x3 & mammogram X4. All results were given to me that same day. I then had a core biopsy 10 days later (easter got in the way…) and the results of that within a week. I then had a plan for surgery, then an MRI to confirm the situation. This actually confirmed that I had a second lump, so whilst waiting for surgery I had another core biopsy and the surgical plan alterered slightly.

Each consultation has entailed a wait, but each time I have been seen by my consultant and BC nurse. I have also seen bc nurse on 3 other occasions for information and support. Consultant and bc nurse have telephoned me at home.

I had a LD flap recon & Mx. My hospital stay was fine - busy ward, but lovely caring nurses and dinner ladies and doctors. Food did leave a bit to be desired!!

I have started chemotherapy, my onc has phoned me at home and I have seen him at each consultation. I have had the drugs that I need which is taxotere. doxyrubicin & cyclophosphamide (TAC). Taxotere is not witheld on the NHS - if you need it you get it. (and the side effects!!!)

I will start my rads after chemo then possibly herceptin after that.

I do not believe that you get better treatment in the private sector, but I do agree that you need to be pro-active with your treatment - finding out what you can, ringing for fesults, being clear what you expect.

My friend was diagnosed in breast clinic last thursday after finding a lump the previous monday and has had her mastectomy this thursday. On the NHS.

Also remember - these tests are very expensive - if you don’t have cover the cost is generally prohibitive to pay for your self.

I agree NHS food is rubbish!!

Td x

My friend found a lump went to Doctors got referred to Hospital, went a week or so later has a scan, mammogram there and then and within the hour she was told that it was just a fatty lump what a difference to waiting around like i had. I think that half the problem is the not knowing . Also my zolodex was not covered on private medical but if i had, had chemo, that would have been. abit confusing really … x

Td taxotere is now available routinely on the NHS but in 2006 when I was dx it was not unless nodes were involved or the tumour was grade 3 or over 3cm.In women over 60 it is still not always the chemo of choice even for triple neg where it is proven to have good results.9 months ago my oncologist told me that if I had been newly dx then he would probably have been able to prescribe tax on NHS.I know PCT’s differ but that was the case here.Vx

I do not have private health care through choice. My treatment on the NHS has been mostly excellent, but, my big complaint would be the lack of privacy on the ward. I was in a ward of 5 beds, not the usual cancer ward as that was full, so I was on there with ingrowing toenails etc. The sympathetic looks were very disconcerting. I was also sleep deprived due to routine and general noise.

Also not getting a full range of scans routinely which is my hospitals policy therefore, I have never had a CT or MRI even though I had lymph node involvement. Had a 3 hr appointment 2 wks after seeing GP when all early tests were done and I was told on the day I had BC.

Had a 1 wk wait for histology after mastectomy (offered to me for wk after diag but we had a wk away so done 2 weeks later), to determine further treatment, but HER2 test took 9 wks which was chased up by my MacMillan nurse who was out raged. This was due to backlog so I expect private patients must jump this cue, and is that right?


All tests that I had done under my private health policy were done in the lab at the private hospital not an NHS lab - although I suppose if an NHS hospital takes private patients too then their lab work would take priority, so in effect yes private patients do jump the queue. On principle I would not be happy to take a bed in an NHS hospital as a private patient as I feel the wait for n NHS bed is long enuff as it is.

I was private and my Her2 result took 8 weeks to come through so no queue jumping there

I suppose with pathology, the cultures take the same length of time to develop no matter who is paying for it!

My hormone status was available on my 1st oncology visit after surgery which was about 10 days - the HER2 wasn’t available for a couple more weeks but nowhere near as long as 8 weeks.