Bowel cancer: Dr Philippa Kaye lists the symptoms
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Bowel cancer is the second most deadly cancer in the UK, accounting for 10 percent of all deaths by the disease. Also known as colorectal cancer, it often causes noticeable changes to your bathroom habits. The sooner you spot these signs, the sooner you can seek potentially life-saving treatment.
In the case of 43-year-old Anisha Patel, she almost mistook these vital symptoms for something else.
The “fit and healthy” doctor from Dorking, in Surrey, started to experience a range of changes in her bowel habits – including constipation, feeling like she wasn’t “completely finished” after going to the toilet and blood appearing on the toilet paper.
Anisha also felt tired a lot of the time, but put this down to her career and role as a mother.
It wasn’t until these symptoms worsened that she sought medical help.
“The blood became more profuse, splattering all over the pan,” she told Express.co.uk.
“And while on holiday I was eating everything under the sun, but the weight started dropping off me.
“I was taking afternoon siestas but the tiredness was worsening. I had two severe bouts of tummy pain at night for a few hours.”
She confided in her husband Gareth, who is a consultant gastroenterologist and director of the local bowel cancer screening programme, who agreed she should seek help.
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Anisha said: I knew young people could get bowel cancer but a friend told me about ‘bowel babe’, the legend that was and still is Dame Deborah James and her case of bowel cancer in the young.
“I knew I just needed to get checked but didn’t think it would be me getting cancer.”
But in September 2018, aged 39 at the time, Anisha was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer.
She said: “I burst out crying as I saw my tumour on the screen and the surgeon said: ‘It’s nasty’.
“My first thoughts were how advanced was it and what about my children? Utter shock and denial.”
Anisha underwent surgery to have a stoma fitted and half her rectum and part of her bowel removed.
The stoma was removed in a second surgery and she then had three months of chemotherapy.
Now, four and a half years in remission Anisha has regular CT scans, blood tests and colonoscopies to check the cancer hasn’t returned.
She urged others to get checked out as soon as possible if they notice symptoms.
“There are lots of potential causes for your symptoms so please don’t assume that you have bowel cancer but it is important to get the right examinations and tests to check,” she said.
“Doctors have seen it all before and try not to feel embarrassed about seeking help – we are trying to break the poo taboo.”
The three main symptoms of bowel cancer are:
- Persistent blood in your poo
- A persistent change in your bowel habit
- Persistent lower abdominal (tummy) pain, bloating or discomfort.
Anisha is also set to release a book, ‘Everything you hoped you’d never need to know about bowel cancer’ on March 30 to raise awareness of the disease.
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