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Bowel cancer – let’s continue the dialogue

Posted on 11th May 2022 in Medical Negligence

Posted by

Michelle Beckett

Senior Associate & Solicitor
Bowel cancer – let’s continue the dialogue

Cancer is a terrible disease, and the diagnosis is devastating.  

Thankfully, many cancers are now treatable with timely detection and treatment being key.   Bowel cancer UK have confirmed that research indicates that every month that cancer treatment is delayed can raise risk of death by around 10%.

Delays in cancer treatment can happen for a number of reasons ranging from:

  • People not seeking medical advice when they experience symptoms (Bowel cancer - NHS (
  • A delay or misdiagnosis made by a medical professional (for example if your GP does not perform a correct examination, organise appropriate tests or referrals or any investigation results are not reported correctly)
  • delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (the government has announced a “war on cancer” and is currently writing a plan on how to improve cancer care and treatment).

Inspirational Podcast host, columnist, author and blogger, Deborah James has tirelessly campaigned to raise awareness of bowel cancer and everything that goes with it, drawing upon her experiences and ultimately aiming to remove the embarrassment factor that may be associated with bowel cancer.  Sadly, there is no cure for Deborah’s cancer and it is no longer being treated, instead she is receiving palliative care for the limited time that she has remaining.  

In our experience Deborah’s story is sadly not uncommon.  She went to her GP 3 times over a period of 6 months worried that she had cancer.  Limited tests were performed, and her concerns were dismissed.  She continued to experience symptoms and fortunately was in a position to pay for a colonoscopy privately which revealed that she had a stage 3 tumour in the bowel.  She then underwent the available treatment to be told in 2020 that the cancer had gone, only for it to reappear later that year.

Due to the type of cancer that Deborah had, earlier diagnosis would not have made a difference to the final outcome.    However, many cancers are treatable if caught early.  Treatment may be more difficult and the cancer could potentially be incurable if there are delays in diagnosis.  People should not be let down by the NHS and have to pay privately for investigations to obtain a diagnosis.

Bowel cancer is often considered a taboo subject with people being reluctant to talk about it and reluctant to seek medical help.   It is sincerely hoped that because of Deborah’s bravery, people will be less afraid to talk about their experiences and concerns, and seek help sooner and some medical professionals may take similar patient concerns more seriously.


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