Bowel cancer: Dr Philippa Kaye lists the symptoms
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Bowel cancer symptoms often revolve entirely around your poo. While this topic might make you feel squeamish, paying attention to any unusual changes is key. Michelle Grant, from Runcorn, shared the “smelly” signs that rang alarm bells for her.
Struggling with constipation was nothing unusual for Michelle as she was taking medication to help her manage seizures.
The uncomfortable sensation was one of the potential problems named on the list of side effects that came with her medicine.
However, Michelle decided to ring her GP once she also spotted blood in her poo.
Her doctor suspected the seizure medicine and prescribed her laxatives.
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It wasn’t until the symptoms started to be “smelly” and particularly bad that the woman got referred for a colonoscopy.
She told Bowel Cancer UK: “My poo started to smell funny, I could even smell it on my hands.
“When I broke wind, I saw bloody mucus and it was smelly too.
“I came back from work one evening and I pooed myself. All this wasn’t normal for me, and I knew it was connected!”
Changes in your bowel habits and rectal bleeding are considered the tell-tale signs of bowel cancer, according to the NHS.
According to the health service, the “main” symptoms to look out for include:
- Persistent change in your bowel habit (having to poo more and your poo may also become more runny)
- Persistent lower abdominal (tummy) pain, bloating or discomfort (always caused by eating)
- Loss of appetite
- Significant unintentional weight loss.
The NHS recommends seeing a GP if you have any of the symptoms of bowel cancer for three weeks or more.
Sadly, Michelle’s colonoscopy confirmed the daunting condition, leaving her “shocked”.
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The woman said: “I had only just found out that I had seizures, a possible brain tumour, and now I have bowel cancer.
“It was during Covid, which was such an emotional time anyway.”
Fortunately, she had a successful operation during which the surgeons removed her womb, cervix, the tumour in her bowel and 11 lymph nodes.
None of the 11 lymph nodes was cancerous, so Michelle didn’t need any further treatment like chemotherapy.
Thanks to the support of her friends and the help of an “amazing” medical team, the woman got through the diagnosis and fought the cancer.
She added: “I’ve got some very good friends that have been able to support me through my diagnosis and treatment, as well as my mum and daughter.
“I would like to thank everyone at Halton and Warrington hospital: the surgeons that saved my life; and the colorectal nurses and Macmillan nurses that have all been amazing and are very supportive.”
Michelle is now on surveillance for another three years with six-monthly blood tests and yearly scans.
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