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Given two to three years to live, man with stage four bowel cancer campaigns for earlier diagnoses

Credit: Bowel Cancer UK

Patrick Wymer from South Wales is using his experience of being diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer to help raise awareness of the symptoms.

The 55-year-old form Penarth was diagnosed in June 2017 with the advanced cancer and given just two to three years to live.

Bowel Cancer UK have launched a new campaign for World Advanced Bowel Cancer Day on Friday 27 which centres on Patrick's story.

According to Bowel Cancer UK, every year around 42,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with the illness. About 10,000 of those are diagnosed at stage four of the cancer.

Stage four bowel cancer is advanced and means the cancer has spread to other areas of the body like the liver or lungs.

Before he was diagnosed, Patrick was exhibiting at least two of the symptoms of bowel cancer: weight loss and more frequent and looser bowel movements.

Being quite slim and never having had a weight problem, the former went largely unnoticed, while the latter I put down to possibly irritable bowel syndrome or a food allergy. It never occurred to me that there was anything seriously wrong and I probably didn’t make that crucial doctor’s appointment soon enough.

– Patrick Wymer

After medical examinations, numerous visits to A&E and a diagnosis of appendicitis - Patrick's cancer was eventually found after an operation.

Patrick has been left with a stoma and is still undergoing chemotherapy to treat the cancer.

He says the treatment "seems to be keeping the disease in check for now." but "the side effects are tough".

Dr Lisa Wilde, Director of Research and External Affairs at Bowel Cancer UK, says Patrick's story shows how important early diagnosis is.

We have been calling on the government for a long time to put initiatives in place to reduce the number of people diagnosed at the late stage of the disease and help ensure more people are diagnosed at the earlier stages.

This is when bowel cancer is more treatable and chance of survival is high.

Being aware of the symptoms and visiting your GP if things don’t feel right can help increase chances of an early diagnosis.

– Dr Lisa Wilde, Director of Research and External Affairs at Bowel Cancer UK
World Advanced Bowel Cancer Day is on Friday 27 September. Credit: PA Images

What is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer. According to Bowel Cancer Uk, almost 42,000 people are diagnosed with it every year.

Early diagnosis gives the best chance of saving lives - nearly everyone survives if diagnosed at the earliest stage.

What are the Symptoms?

The Symptoms can include:

  • Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your faeces
  • An unexplained change in the amount of times you need the toilet
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • A pain or lump in your stomach

However, most people with these symptoms do not have bowel cancer as other health problems can cause similar symptoms.