Q&A - Should my bowel cancer have been diagnosed earlier?

Q:  During the last 3 years I have suffered with bowel changes, bloating and abdominal pains. I have also found blood in my stools. My GP told me that I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome and haemorrhoids and I was prescribed peppermint oil capsules and advised to add more fibre to my diet. 

I did everything I was told to do but I was not getting any better, so I went back to my GP who that time prescribed laxatives for constipation and IBS.  I lost over half a stone in a matter of months and I went back to see my GP, who said that he would refer me to hospital for further tests. 

I have now been diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer. I am anxious about what the future holds as my symptoms suggest I might have had bowel cancer for some time, but I have only just been diagnosed. Should my GP have referred me to hospital sooner? 

A:  It is absolutely vital that cancer is diagnosed accurately and at the earliest opportunity, to give the best chance of successful treatment. By its very nature, bowel cancer can be difficult to detect and is often misdiagnosed as a less serious illness, such as IBS, as symptoms do overlap. Nonetheless, medical professionals have a responsibility to act quickly once symptoms appear. 

Your case certainly warrants investigation as to whether your GP might have failed to recognise the signs of bowel cancer and refer you to hospital soon enough. The investigation would then turn to what the delay has caused in terms of the medical treatment you will require and your overall prognosis. 

You should contact a local solicitor whom you can trust to approach your case with sensitivity and to seek the answers you need.

Article 12/03/2020

Claire Parfitt

Claire Parfitt

Senior Solicitor

Senior Solicitor within our Civil Litigation team in Wrexham and Oswestry