Dad's warning: Don't let GPs miss signs of cancer

Bowel cancer screening kit
Bowel cancer screening kit
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A borough dad is urging people not to let medics “ignore” signs of cancer after his own bowel tumour went undetected on multiple visits to the doctor.

Kris Anderton was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May, at just 36 years old.

A charity sports day to raise awareness of bowel cancer in younger people. Kris Anderton pictured in front row, fifth from left

A charity sports day to raise awareness of bowel cancer in younger people. Kris Anderton pictured in front row, fifth from left

But the dad of four, from Leigh, had been to the doctors three times before medics finally discovered a tumour.

“I was bloated a lot and had pains in my abdomen. I went to the doctors three times and they just couldn’t find anything,” he said.

On the third occasion, another medical professional told Kris he had a stomach bug, and sent him on his way.

It wasn’t until that same evening, when Kris presented at A&E with sunburn and a high temperature, that at ultrasound was carried out, and a shadow was found in his abdomen.

“It’s always going to take you by surprise,” he said of being told the shocking diagnosis.

“But I was in a lot of pain for a couple of months.

“And more and more people are getting diagnosed at a younger age, so maybe they weren’t screening me properly.”

“Unfortunately I came across a few dismissive people at Wigan A&E.

“They took an X-ray and said I was constipated, and sent me home.”

He added: “You know something’s wrong with you, then you’re going to these professionals to get help and it feels like they are trying to get you out of the door without thoroughly investigating it.”

Kris underwent bowel surgery in June.

A large portion of the tumour was removed, as were a piece of his pancreas and all of his spleen, after doctors found it had spread.

He is currently in the midst of a six-month chemotherapy treatment, and said that daily life was now “very difficult.”

But friends and family have rallied around Kris, and recently organised a charity sports day to raise awareness of the increasing amount of younger people being diagnosed with bowel cancer.

“The charity day was amazing. They all pulled together and organise such a big event.

“It’s a big pick-me-up when you see that kind of support. When you feel a bit down, you can look back on that.”

Kris is now urging anyone who might display symptoms not to hesitate to get checked out, and to trust their instincts if they feel their doctor’s opinion isn’t quite right.

He said: “You need to keep pushing them and not let them ignore it.

“This cancer is affecting so many people now at such a young age, but it’s very easy for it to be overlooked.

“If it’s overlooked for too long, it could be too late, it’s something that needs to be addressed.

“If I hadn’t have had sunburn, I’d probably still be having to push the doctors.”

Dr Tim Dalton, Local GP and Chair of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “Picking up cancers early is important, but at times can be difficult, as there are many signs and symptoms of cancers that can also occur in other illnesses also.

“This makes diagnosis difficult at times both for health professionals and patients.

“Cancers are less common in younger age groups, yet clearly still do occur.

“The NHS website (www.nhs.uk) lists some common signs and symptoms of bowel cancer, and we would encourage people to seek medical advice should they have persistent symptoms.

“We cannot comment on individual cases, but the practices are encouraged to analyse any case where cancers are picked up by an attendance to A&E, to see if there is any learning that can be shared in the future.”

The symptoms of bowel cancer can be subtle, and don’t necessarily make you feel ill.

More than 90 per cent of people with bowel cancer have one of the following combinations of symptoms:

l A persistent change in bowel habit – going more often, with looser stools and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain.

l Blood in the stools without other piles (haemorrhoids) symptoms – this makes it unlikely the cause is haemorrhoids.

l Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating – sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss.

Medical attention is recommended if these symptoms persist for more than four weeks.

For more information, visit nhs.uk.