Bowel cancer patient thought symptoms were a haemorrhoid
Bowel cancer: Alan Titchmarsh urges public to do screening test
“At first, I thought I had a hemorrhoid,” Joshua Sanchez said of his concerning symptom. “[But] I felt like something still wasn’t great because I had noticed some blood.” Joshua, who is deaf, told Today via an interpreter that he first saw specks of blood in his poo back in 2021.
After visiting doctors at Mount Sinai, tests revealed he had stage four bowel cancer that had spread to his liver.
The New Yorker had surgery to remove the tumours and went on a three-week course of chemotherapy.
Lesions on his liver were treated using radiation, but Joshua is still waiting to hear if he is now free from cancer.
Joshua said: “We’re Latino so we don’t really focus on our health and we don’t talk about that and we don’t discuss vulnerabilities very often.
“So [bowel cancer symptoms is] a serious thing that needs to be communicated more.”
The symptoms of bowel cancer, as pointed out by the NHS, can include:
- Changes in your poo, such as 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
- Often feeling like you need to poo, even if you’ve just been to the toilet
- Tummy pain
- Losing weight without trying
- Feeling very tired for no reason.
People are strongly advised to visit their doctor if they experience any sign of bowel cancer that continues for three weeks or more.
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These symptoms could also be indicative of other health conditions, but an early diagnosis – no matter what it is – means treatment can begin sooner.
“Depending on your symptoms, the doctor may feel your tummy and ask to do a rectal examination,” the NHS adds.
While this may feel uncomfortable, as a gloved finger is inserted into the bottom to check for lumps, it can be a life-saving check.
“You can ask for someone else to be in the room with you when the rectal examination happens,” the health body says.
“If a GP refers you to a specialist because they think you could have bowel cancer, you’ll have tests to check for cancer.”
The main test is a colonoscopy, where a thin, flexible tube, that has a camera on it, is used to look inside the bowel.
Before the procedure, you will be offered a sedative and painkillers to make the check more comfortable.
“You may get some results on the same day that you have the colonoscopy, or after a few days,” the NHS says.
In the UK, nearly 43,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year.
The charity Bowel Cancer UK assured the conditions is “treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early”.
Yet, a late diagnosis drastically decreases a person’s chance of survival.
“More than 16,800 people die from bowel cancer in the UK every year. It’s the second biggest cancer killer in the UK,” the charity notes.
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