Dad, 41, diagnosed with bowel cancer after back and forth with doctors

Bowel cancer: Dr Philippa Kaye lists the symptoms

Richard Scott, 41, didn’t hesitate and went to get his new symptoms checked by a GP. However, the dad of two daughters, aged six and 10, was sent on his way without any further referral and investigations. Two years later, after new symptoms and back and forth with doctors, he was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer.

The first symptoms that rang alarm bells for Richard were blood in his stool and severe tiredness which prompted the dad to see his GP in March 2021.

However, the 41-year-old explained that no referral or further investigation were made following this visit.

Over the next year, he went back to his GP who eventually decided to check him for inflammatory bowel disease.

His first test identified high levels of calprotectin, which describes a protein biomarker that is present in the faeces when intestinal inflammation occurs. However, this marker returned to normal on further testing.

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No other investigations were carried out. Richard, a charity worker, from Bristol, said: “As the months went on my symptoms persisted, I trusted my GP’s advice and because they didn’t seem worried about my symptoms, I was reassured.”

He returned to the doctors in April 2022 with the same symptoms as well as aches, pains and more frequent visits to the toilet.

Blood in stools and frequent loo trips describe some of the tell-tale signs of bowel cancer.

According to the NHS, the key symptoms of bowel cancer can include:

  • Changes in your poo (having softer poo, diarrhoea or constipation that is not usual for you)
  • Needing to poo more or less often than usual for you
  • Blood in your poo, which may look red or black
  • Bleeding from your bottom
  • Feeling like you need to poo often, even if you’ve just been to the toilet
  • Tummy pain
  • Bloating
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Feeling very tired for no reason.

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New tests showed high levels of calprotectin again and Richard was referred to a gastroenterology team after 13 months of going back and forth.

Following further examinations in August 2022, the dad received the gloomy diagnosis of stage four bowel cancer and was told it had spread to his liver.

Richard, who is married to Anny, said: “The last few months following my diagnosis have been a real mix of emotions.

“My treatment, particularly while trying to come to terms with my diagnosis and how the cancer was very advanced, has been difficult. Not just physically but also emotionally and financially.”

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He has now undergone six months of chemotherapy and also had surgery to remove a tumour from his liver.

The dad is now recovering at home and awaiting advice on the next treatment steps. Richard expects he will need further surgery which will leave him with a stoma, an opening on the surface of the tummy.

He said: “We used to do everything as a family – go on holidays, trips, days out but that’s all on hold at the minute because of my illness.

“I’ve tried to remain as positive as I can, not only for myself and my recovery but for Anny and the children.

“However, it’s hard especially as I’m now reliant on Anny and she’s had to drop hours at work to help look after me.

“I face an uncertain future but am determined to give everything I can to fight this disease and spend as much time as possible with my family.

“I can’t change what’s happened to me but as well as wanting answers I hope that my story can potentially help others by them being aware of the signs of cancer and access care as soon as they can.

“It’s vital that people don’t think they have to go through a cancer diagnosis alone as help and support are available.”

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