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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 October, 2004, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
All-clear after cancer test wait
Theresa Debono
Theresa Debono borrowed money to pay for a mammogram
A woman who was told to wait 17 weeks to have a breast cancer test on the NHS has been given the all-clear.

Theresa Debono, 40, paid 144.50 for a private test two weeks ago after feeling she had waited long enough.

Guidelines say she should have been seen within 10 days for a mammogram but she had already waited 10 weeks when she was told to wait seven more.

Mrs Debono, from Cardiff, whose case was taken up by Labour MP Jon Owen Jones, was relieved at the all-clear.

"Thank God for that," said the mother-of-two from the Roath area. "I thought `Anything else now I can deal with'."

Mrs Debono borrowed the money she needed from a relative for the test with the private health care provider Bupa.

 Jon Owen Jones MP
Mr Jones took up the case of Mrs Debono

The initial procedure, which took place two weeks ago, showed up potential problems in both breasts.

But further tests have now revealed she does not have cancer.

"They say if you feel anything unusual with your breasts go to the doctor, and that is what I did," she said.

"I should have known this three months ago. I am just glad it is over now."

"It's good news - I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

"I just feel sorry for women out there in the same position as myself who might not hear good news."

Former Welsh Office health minister Jon Owen Jones said he was "very, very relieved" on Mrs Debono's behalf.

"If it was bad news, we know early detection is crucial," he said.

Woman being screened for breast cancer
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK

"There's all the world of difference in the world between finding out it's bad news, and finding out its bad news and it's too late.

"That's the really important issue behind this case."

After Mrs Debono's case was first highlighted, Mr Jones condemned Welsh assembly health minister Jane Hutt's initial response as inadequate and complacent.

Ms Hutt had agreed that such a long delay was unacceptable, but said it was a matter for the Cardiff Local Health Board and Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust.

Hugh Ross, chief executive of the Cardiff and Vale NHS trust, said last month that the trust received about 80 referrals each week, but it could deal with only 60.

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