Delays in Diagnosis of Bowel Cancer

This blog is written by Katie Little in our clinical negligence department.

It is a subject that many find embarrassing and would rather not talk about, however bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer and the second biggest killer in the UK and it can affect anybody. April 2021 is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and it is important that you are aware of the signs and symptoms and when you need to take action. If the disease is diagnosed in the early stages, prognosis is normally good but as time passes, the prospects of recovery diminish significantly.  

Symptoms of Bowel Cancer

The main symptoms of bowel cancer to look out for are:

  • Blood in your poo
  • A change in your bowel habit (i.e. going to the toilet more or less often than usual)
  • Lower tummy pain, bloating or discomfort                                  

#NoButts Campaign lead by Deborah James, 39 year old with incurable bowel cancer                           

If you experience any of the above it is important to visit your GP as soon as possible. They should take details of your symptoms, general health and family history. They may also carry out an examination. If the GP is concerned, you will be referred to a specialist.

However, here at Lanyon Bowdler, we are aware that sometimes things don’t go to plan and this can have a devastating outcome if it results in a delayed diagnosis. If you attended an appointment with your GP presenting with any of the symptoms above and they failed to refer you to a specialist for further investigations (or were delayed in doing so), they did not carry out the correct testing or screening, or if they misdiagnosed you with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or colitis (for example) then you may have a claim for the harm suffered as a result.

Remember, early detection is key. Be aware of the symptoms and note that the NHS also offers a bowel screening system to all of those aged between 60 and 74. Every two years you will be sent a home test kit which simply involves collecting a small sample of poo to send for testing. If you are eligible for a home test kit, take up this offer.

The below links provide helpful information and support if you or somebody you know has been impacted by bowel cancer:

For more information and advice, please contact a member of our clinical negligence team.