Don't self-analyse, patient says

Do not self-analyse or ignore possible symptoms of bowel cancer - get to the doctor.

That is the advice of a woman found with cancer this year after an initial request for a colonoscopy was turned down.

The woman, in her 50s, who has undergone radiotherapy and surgery for her condition, said she was grateful to have had a GP who was on the ball when she went to her this year after noticing symptoms over about eight months. Her symptoms included rectal bleeding, iron deficiency and unexplained weight loss.

She had put symptoms down to menopause and being busy, even though some of them had gone on for months.

While correspondence relating to her case showed the GP expressed dismay to hospital specialists that rectal bleeding, noted as a key presenting issue, was described as absent in some of the hospital documentation of her case, the woman did not wish to dwell on that aspect.

She felt she was lucky to have had her cancer discovered after a sigmoidoscopy (six weeks after the original request for a colonoscopy was refused) signalled its presence and she went on to have a colonoscopy.

The hospital had apologised for any delay, she said.

It was important the system could respond quickly to patients with symptoms and she was hopeful the attention now being drawn to GPs' concerns might result in some improvements.

" It could be a matter of life and death for some people to have to wait."She was grateful her cancer was discovered before it spread to lymph nodes and praised the work of all those involved with her care.

"My story is not about blame - it is about the ridiculous habit we can have of self-analysis."


Symptoms may include. -
> Rectal bleeding not because of piles.
> Changes in bowel habit which last more than six weeks.
> Low iron levels in the blood, particularly a sudden drop.
> Unexplained weight loss.
> Abdominal pain.

Note: Such symptoms could also apply to other conditions, but doctors advise the possibility of bowel cancer needs to be eliminated.


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