Mon. Apr 15th, 2024
alert-–-woman-diagnosed-with-stage-four-bowel-cancer-aged-just-25-warns-other-young-people-not-to-dismiss-symptoms-‘as-just-a-uti’-like-she-did-–-as-baffled-experts-warn-of-‘mystery-rise’-in-disease-in-the-under-50sAlert – Woman diagnosed with stage-four bowel cancer aged just 25 warns other young people not to dismiss symptoms ‘as just a UTI’ like she did – as baffled experts warn of ‘mystery rise’ in disease in the under 50s

When Ellie Wilcock experienced a sudden pain in her abdomen, she assumed that a urinary tract infection (UTI) was to blame.

After all, it was something the then 25-year-old had experienced before.

But the actual cause was a cancer that kills almost 17,000 Brits each year.

Ellie, now 27, from Peterborough, was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer – the most serious kind of the disease.

Bowel cancer, the third most common cancer in the UK, is the same type that killed Dame Deborah James at age 40 in 2022. Analysis suggests deaths are set to rise by 2,500 a year between now and 2040.

When Ellie Wilcock experienced a sudden pain in her abdomen, she assumed that a urinary tract infection (UTI) was to blame. After all, it was something the then 25-year-old had experienced before

When Ellie Wilcock experienced a sudden pain in her abdomen, she assumed that a urinary tract infection (UTI) was to blame. After all, it was something the then 25-year-old had experienced before

But the actual cause was a cancer that kills almost 17,000 Brits each year. Ellie, now 27, from Peterborough, was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer – the most serious kind of the disease

But the actual cause was a cancer that kills almost 17,000 Brits each year. Ellie, now 27, from Peterborough, was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer – the most serious kind of the disease

Meanwhile, the number of people in the UK diagnosed with the disease will rise by around a tenth in the same period.

Content manager Ellie’s illness began with an ‘extreme pain’ in her abdomen, a classic symptom of the disease. 

However, at the time she thought ‘nothing of it’ and suspected it was simply a UTI. 

But when the pain got worse, she decided to seek help from her GP. 

Tests for a UTI came back negative, but blood tests conducted around the same time showed markers of inflammation. 

Such signs can indicate cancer but also other potential diseases and conditions. 

Ellie was then booked in for an ultrasound, but the pain worsened rapidly, forcing her to seek aid via A&E. 

Scans conducted there detected an unknown mass in her lower abdomen.

Medics at the time suspected it could be an ovarian cyst or another condition.

The content manager's illness began with an 'extreme pain' in her abdomen, a classic symptom of the disease. However, at the time she thought 'nothing of it' and suspected it was simply a UTI

The content manager’s illness began with an ‘extreme pain’ in her abdomen, a classic symptom of the disease. However, at the time she thought ‘nothing of it’ and suspected it was simply a UTI

But when the pain got worse, she decided to seek help from her GP. Tests for a UTI came back negative, but blood tests conducted around the same time showed markers of inflammation. Such signs can indicate cancer but also other potential diseases and conditions

But when the pain got worse, she decided to seek help from her GP. Tests for a UTI came back negative, but blood tests conducted around the same time showed markers of inflammation. Such signs can indicate cancer but also other potential diseases and conditions

It was only when a biopsy was conducted that the devastating truth was revealed.

Tests revealed the disease had spread to her liver, ovaries and the peritoneum – the membrane that holds the organs in the abdomen. 

Diagnosed in February 2022, Ellie recalls being in disbelief, never thinking the issue could be caused by cancer at so young an age.

She recalls how in the midst of this confusion Dame Deborah, dubbed the ‘Bowelbabe’ for her work in raising awareness about the disease, provided a source of comfort and hope. 

‘I remember being in the midst of my treatment whilst following Deborah’s story,’ she said.

‘Cancer for me felt like this new and scary world that I’d been plunged head-first into.

‘It was scary and unfamiliar to me, filled with doctors, hospital gowns and a cocktail of tests and medication.’

‘It was Deborah that made all of this ‘new world’ feel human. Deborah, to me, was proof that you really can live with cancer. 

‘She was this beacon of hope who was truly empowering and inspiring, this positivity continues to shine with her legacy.’

Ellie underwent multiple surgeries to remove her cancer as well as gruelling rounds of chemotherapy but in August 2022 was told there was no more evidence of the disease.

Bowel cancer can cause you to have blood in your poo, a change in bowel habits, a lump inside your bowel which can cause an obstruction. Some people also suffer from weight loss as a result of these symptoms

Bowel cancer can cause you to have blood in your poo, a change in bowel habit, a lump inside your bowel which can cause an obstructions. Some people also suffer with weight loss a s a result of these symptoms

Dame Deborah James, nicknamed the 'bowel babe' raised more than £11.3mn for Cancer Research and is credited for increasing awareness of the disease, which killed her in 2022 aged 40

Dame Deborah James, nicknamed the ‘bowel babe’ raised more than £11.3mn for Cancer Research and is credited for increasing awareness of the disease, which killed her in 2022 aged 40

While bowel cancer rates are highest among people aged 85 to 89 in the UK, experts have warned rates are on the rise among adults under 50 like both Ellie and Dame Deborah.

Experts are concerned about a mystery rise in cancer among younger adults in general, an issue that has come into sharp focus following Kate Middleton’s shock diagnosis last month.

The main symptoms of bowel cancer are unusual changes in your toilet habits, such as softer poo, diarrhoea or constipation.

Pooing more or less frequently than usual, blood in your stool or feeling like you need to poo even after you’ve just gone are other symptoms.

Like Ellie, people can also experience tummy pain or other symptoms like bloating, losing weight without trying or fatigue.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms for three weeks or more is advised to speak to their GP.

Bowel cancer symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, but it’s important to get checked so the disease can be spotted as early as possible.

Cancer Research UK estimates that over half (54 per cent) of bowel cancer cases in the UK are preventable. 

Some of the risk factors for the disease are eating too little fibre, eating too much red meat and being obese.  

Analysis released by the Bowelbabe Fund – set up in memory of Deborah James – projected that if current trends continue, bowel cancer cases will rise from 42,800 a year now, to 47,700 in 16 years’ time.

Cancer Research UK said the figures are a stark reminder of the ongoing need for life-saving cancer research and the importance of raising awareness around the signs and symptoms of the disease.

Dame Deborah was a passionate advocate for this, and the Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK was set up in May 2022 to continue her legacy.

READ MORE: Doctors warn narrow stool could be a sign of COLON CANCER… here’s what the shape of poop says about your health

The fund has raised £13m to help combat bowel cancer and has now committed £10m to support seven pioneering projects that are helping to give more people more time with the people they love.

As part of this, £5m has been pledged over the next five years to help support the work of the Cancer Grand Challenges team PROSPECT looking into early-onset bowel cancer.

This cancer type is on the rise, but not well understood, with Deborah just 35 when she received her bowel cancer diagnosis.

Beth Vincent, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: ‘It’s important to remember that cancer is primarily a disease of older age, with the majority of new cancer cases being diagnosed in those aged 50 and above.

‘The predicted rise in people being diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK can largely be explained by our growing and ageing population.

‘Globally and in the UK we’re seeing a small increase in rates of early onset bowel cancer, affecting people aged 25-49. Whilst the number of cases looks very big, this increase is partly due to population growth – though this doesn’t change how difficult it is for those who are diagnosed with cancer.

‘No matter how old you are, if you notice any changes that are not normal for you, or something that won’t go away, don’t ignore it, speak to your doctor. In most cases, it won’t be cancer, but if it is, spotting it early can make a real difference.’ Around 43,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, with around 17,000 deaths.

Other projects funded include, exploring the use of artificial intelligence, blood tests to detect the earliest signs of cancer and understanding how bowel cancer spreads and a new, advanced Interventional radiology X-Ray machine at The Royal Marsden.

Chief executive of Cancer Research UK, Michelle Mitchell, said: ‘We’re honoured that Deborah entrusted us with keeping her legacy alive by raising money to support the pioneering research and brilliant awareness activity that she was so passionate about.

‘With bowel cancer cases set to rise, we’ll continue working together with her family to keep funding work that will make the most difference for people affected by cancer and their loved ones.’

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