Bowel cancer being missed in elderly due to online appointments – symptoms to spot

Gran ignored NHS checks only to be diagnosed with cancer

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Cancer is a deadly umbrella of conditions affecting thousands of patients in the UK.

The most common forms of cancer in the country are prostate, lung, breast, and bowel cancer.

New research from the University of Surrey suggests cancers are being missed by the move to online GP appointments.

Bowel cancer patients are considered the worst affected by the lack of in-person appointments.

Writing about the results, published in the British Journal of General Practice, the researchers wrote: “More than half of participants in the lower socioeconomic status group described reservations including practical barriers such as missing phone calls, not getting a call back, and dependence on technology working.”

Dr Katrina Whitaker, author of the study, added changes in how patients access GPs “may have serious ongoing implications for exacerbating health inequalities”.

Dr Whitaker said: “These must be urgently addressed if the NHS is to improve outcomes for those who need help most.”

As part of this need for change is the requirement for people to be encouraged to report their symptoms and not to be concerned by the pressure they may put on the NHS as a result of coming forward.

The study noted bowel cancer patients in particular were affected.

On average, over 16,000 people died from bowel cancer every year.

Symptoms of the disease include:
• A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
• Bleeding from the bottom
• Blood in the poo
• Unexplained weight loss
• Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
• A pain or lump in the tummy.

Although these symptoms may be unnerving when experienced, Bowel Cancer UK add: “Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms.

“But if you have any of these, or if things just don’t feel right, got to see your GP.”

Bowel cancer has been near the top of the health news agenda amid the declining health of campaigner and author Dame Deborah James.

Since being diagnosed with the condition in 2016, Dame James has worked tirelessly to raise funds and awareness of bowel cancer.

Earlier this year Dame James relayed the news she had entered end-of-life care.

Since then, she has started a crowdfunding campaign for cancer research, raising over £6million at the time of writing, been awarded a Damehood by Prince William, and had a rose named after her at the Chelsea Flower Show.

James continues to act as a beacon of inspiration to all those living with and fighting cancer.

The money raised by the crowdfunding campaign will go towards cancer research and development of new treatments to one day triumph against the disease.

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