Doctor urges people to check poo after her ‘subtle’ sign was bowel cancer

Doctor urges people to check poo after her ‘subtle’ sign was bowel cancer

Bowel cancer: Dr Philippa Kaye lists the symptoms

Knowing what’s “normal” for your body could be life-saving, a GP and cancer survivor has said.

Doctor Anisha Patel was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer in 2018 after noticing her bathroom habits had changed.

The “fit and healthy” mum-of-two from Surrey initially thought her symptoms, which included constipation and blood in her poo, could have been caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

However, after the symptoms worsened Anisha, now 44, sought medical help leading to her diagnosis.

One symptom that sent alarm bells ringing was the shape of her poo, which had changed.

She described how it became “thin” and “ribbon-like” due to a tumour compressing it.

Speaking to The Mirror, she said: “Changes in the shape of your poo are important.

“When I had cancer, my poo actually became thin and ribbon-like because there was a tumour obstructing it coming out, so it was basically compressing it and making it thin. So it’s subtle things like that.”

She urged others to investigate any changes to their stools.

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“People should know their own bowel habits but often people don’t know what’s normal for them, so my biggest advice is to check your poo before you flush the toilet, check the tissue, because sometimes you don’t even know if there’s blood on it,” she said.

“So make sure you know what’s normal for you in terms of diarrhoea, constipation, mucus and blood.

“That way you’ll be able to know when there’s a persistent change and something that’s persistent is normally for more than three weeks.”

Following her diagnosis, Anisha underwent surgery to have half her rectum and part of her bowel removed.

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She was also fitted with a stoma bag, which was removed in a second surgery, and three months of chemotherapy.

Now in remission she has regular CT scans, blood tests and colonoscopies to check the cancer hasn’t returned.

Following her experience, the doctor has written a book – Everything You Hoped You’d Never Need To Know About Bowel Cancer – in a bid to raise awareness of the disease.

She is also urging others to not feel too embarrassed to talk to doctors about their poo or any other symptoms they may be experiencing, as doctors have seen everything.

“People shouldn’t feel embarrassed to come to their doctors, we see this all the time,” Anisha added.

“I am regularly examining various bits of the body and I don’t see any part of the body different to something else.

“When I’m examining genitals I don’t see that as different from examining an arm and in a doctor’s head, we’re trying to piece together the puzzle from what the patient’s told us, from the examination, from what the tests show us, and working out what we need to do next.”

According to the NHS, symptoms of bowel cancer 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
  • Bloating
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Feeling very tired for no reason.

If you experience any symptoms of bowel cancer you should speak to your doctor.

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