Identical twins with breast cancer at the same time

Twins Nicola, left, and Leigh Baker who are now aged 27. Two years ago they were both diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time

Twins Nicola, left, and Leigh Baker who were both diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time

As Phil Mickelson’s wife and mother both undergo treatment for breast cancer at the same time, I wonder how many other families are dealing with a similar situation? I personally know of two situations, a friend and her step-mother and two sisters who were diagnosed within a year of each other and shared the experiences together. In today’s Daily Mail, there is a story of identical twins, Leigh and Nicola Baker who were diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 25, within six weeks of each other. Breast cancer experts believe the case is the first of its kind in the UK.

Leigh, from Minehead, Somerset, was the first to be diagnosed after finding a lump in her left breast in January 2007. Initially her GP told her it was nothing to worry about.

A month later she saw a different GP who referred her to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.

But because she was under 30, the appointment was not marked as urgent and Leigh was not seen until May, three months later.

It was then that doctors told her that she had breast cancer which had already spread.

Leigh, now 27, said: ‘I was so shocked I burst into tears. ‘The doctors told me that I had grade-three cancer which was aggressive, but it had already spread under my arm.’If I had been seen when I first found the lump, the cancer may not have spread like it did.’

Leigh had a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy, and doctors recommended that her identical twin should be tested.

To their shock, the results showed that Nicola had cancer in her left breast too. Luckily Nicola’s cancer was in its earliest stages and had not spread. She had a mastectomy but did not need chemotherapy.

Lester Barr, a consultant surgeon at the Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Centre in Manchester, said: ‘We have heard of twins both getting breast cancer years apart – but not at the same time like this.’

Leigh’s late diagnosis, which allowed secondary cancer to spread, has prompted their father to launch a campaign urging the Government to reconsider treatment guidelines for women under 30. He has travelled the UK gathering signatures to send to No10 in his Cry Wolf Campaign, collecting more than 3,500. For more information about his efforts, visit http://www.smallcarsbighearts.co.uk.