On last night’s episode of BBC1’s Holby City (5th March) a patient was actually diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma!
OK, so the situation was somewhat improbable – the symptoms, path to diagnosis and MDT meeting were no doubt far removed from most people’s experiences … but the words bile duct cancer and cholangiocarcinoma were spoken (albeit just once each!) on national television.
Many comments coming in to AMMF today, including:
“In terms of awareness, that is significant!” Dr Shahid Khan
“Unfortunately, medical dramas are rarely correct, but it is a step in the right direction!” Prof Simon Taylor-Robinson
“About time too!!” Andrea Fear
“Amazing! Maybe it was thanks to AMMF’s February Cholangiocarcinoma Awareness Month!!!” Claire Bradburn (We like that one, Claire!)
Are we beginning to get this devastating disease on the radar?
To see the episode, click here
Original comment / 06 March 2013
UPDATE – 09 April 2013
AMMF decided to follow this up, and asked Simon Harper, Acting Senior Producer on Holby City at BBC Drama Production, what was the reason behind featuring cholangiocarcinoma in the storyline – was it that someone known to the story writers or researchers had been diagnosed with it? There are many rare cancers, so it seemed a little strange that CC was picked randomly.
Simon did some research to find the origins behind the storyline, and has concluded that it wasn’t because anybody in the department had a particular or personal link with the condition. He says the story researcher who worked on that episode has now left, and that the current researcher feels her predecessor probably worked with their Consultant Oncologist to come up with a particular condition that would give a scenario where the character, Anna, “could have had underlying symptoms for some time which she did not act upon – and also to tell a story where, very sadly and tragically, the character not having acted upon her symptoms, deterioration came quite quickly thereafter. ”
We then asked who the Consultant Oncologist was on the storyline, as everyone we are in contact with hadn’t been approched and didn’t know anything about this. Despite the names of medical consultants usually appearing in the titles at the end of the episodes, this was the answer we got: “We cannot give out the names of the consultants we use. I am sorry about this – but … if we did so, it might lead to them being potentially approached and contacted by viewers and indeed charities … which could get out of control. That is why we use myself as Series Producer as a source of communication for such queries.”
He further commented that a condition is sometimes selected because it can “ … deliver the story beats needed – in this case, Malick’s ex turning up and subsequently dying him leaving him with their son.” Adding, “I do hope it doesn’t leave you with the impression that we take … the condition … any the less seriously. “
And finally Simon mentioned that they have no plans to use CC again in future storylines, but if they do, “AMMF will be our first port of call.”
At the end of our communications with Simon Harper, we really have no more information about why cholangiocarcinoma was the chosen condition for this storyline than we did at the beginning.
From our point of view, it is disappointing that they neglected to research this story fully, because it would have been such a golden opportunity for awareness raising and could have done so much good, when we are desperate for people to sit up and take notice. However, we can only be thankful it hasn’t actually done any harm … and one has to be thankful for small mercies.
This then is the end of CC’s Holby City story – but remember, the words bile duct cancer and cholangiocarcinoma have been spoken (albeit just once each!) on national television.