Bowel cancer is the second most lethal cancer in the UK, accounting for 10% of all cancer fatalities. Colorectal cancer, often known as colon cancer, frequently produces obvious changes in your restroom habits. The sooner you recognize these warning symptoms, the sooner you can seek possibly life-saving treatment.
In the case of Anisha Patel, 43, she almost mistaken these vital signs for something else.
The “fit and healthy” doctor from Dorking, Surrey, began to notice changes in her bowel habits, including constipation, the feeling that she wasn’t “fully finished” after using the toilet, and blood 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 told her husband Gareth, a consultant gastroenterologist and the director of the local bowel cancer screening program, and he agreed she should get help.
Anisha said: I knew young people may have bowel cancer but a friend told me about ‘bowel baby’, 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 had surgery to place a stoma and have half of her rectum and part of her bowel removed.
She underwent a second operation to remove the stoma, followed by three months of chemotherapy.
Currently in remission for four and a half years Anisha is subjected to regular CT scans, blood tests, and colonoscopies to ensure that the cancer has not returned.
She recommended others to seek medical attention as soon as possible if they see 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.”