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Mother-of-two told she is ‘too young for cancer’ diagnosed with stage 4 disease

Mother-of-two, 39, who was told she is ‘too young for cancer’ is diagnosed with stage 4 disease after feeling a tumour while on the toilet

  • Mother-of-two Beth Purvis reassured she was fine after cancer misdiagnosed
  • The 37-year-old from Essex felt a tumour after it came out of her rectum on toilet
  • Weeks later she began gruelling chemotherapy but cancer was at stage 4 
  • Her lungs were operated on in 2017 before she was given the all-clear by medics 

A mother told she is ‘too young to have cancer’ has revealed she was reassured she was fine – until she found a tumour ‘sticking out her bottom’.

Beth Purvis, then 37, was sure she had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) after doctors said her symptoms were nothing to worry about.

She was told twice to return only if her symptoms got worse. However, the mother-of-two, from Essex, felt something was wrong while on the toilet one day in 2016. 

She told the Mirror Online she saw ‘blood’ after going to the toilet and felt something strange, as well as experiencing pain.

Mrs Purvis, now 39, said: ‘I felt something was stuck, when I went to wipe it away there was a lot of blood and I could feel something fleshy.’

She was taken to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow for what she thought was a rectal prolapse – but while there she was told she had stage four bowel cancer.

Beth Purvis, 37, was told she had stage 4 bowel cancer after being rushed to the hospital with tumours sticking out of her bottom

Beth Purvis in hospital

The mother from Essex battled the disease which spread to her lungs after she was told she did not have it

Later, after it was discovered she had damage to the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, more surgery was needed

Later, after it was discovered she had damage to the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, more surgery was needed

WHAT IS THE NHS’ BOWEL CANCER SCREENING PROGRAMME?

Bowel cancer screening is offered to those aged 60 to 74 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – but not anyone younger. 

The main screening method is the faecal occult blood test (FOBT), which looks for hidden blood in stools. It is posted to people in the age range every two years — they then post a sample back.   

Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer – around 16,000 people die from it each year. 

If caught early, at stage one, patients have a 97 per cent survival rate for at least five years, but discovered later, at stage four, this falls to just 5 per cent for men and 10 per cent for women.

Former Tory health secretary Lord Andrew Lansley launched a screening programme, called bowelscope, to detect signs of cancer for 55 year olds eight years ago. It was due to be rolled out nationally in 2016 – but fell foul of financial cuts. 

Bowel cancer screening starts at 50 in Scotland. The decision to start 10 years later in the rest of the UK has been the subject of controversy.

BBC news presenter George Alagiah previously said his bowel cancer could have been caught earlier if the screening programme in England was the same as in Scotland. 

He was first diagnosed four years ago, at the age of 58; last Christmas he was told that the cancer had returned and it’s now stage four.

Weeks later she began chemotherapy but, in 2017, the disease had spread to her lungs.

Later, after it was discovered she had damage to the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, more surgery was needed.

Mrs Purvis, married to Richard 47, said: ‘I thought it was going to mean treatment was over.

‘But three weeks after my reversal I developed a rectal, vaginal fistula – that’s a hole between the two.

‘Everything was coming out of the wrong place, it was awful. Then I had to have my bum sewn up.’

After even more chemotherapy, Mrs Purvis had her lungs operated on at The Royal Brompton in London and later was finally declared cancer free.

She told Mirror Online: ‘Right now I’m back on chemotherapy to try and keep the cancer away as long as possible, but I’m feeling OK as I am on a less aggressive treatment.

‘I get tired and a few other relatively minor side effects, but that’s a small price to pay to keep me here for a bit longer.’

Bowel, or colorectal, cancer affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum.

According to Bowel Cancer UK figures, more than 41,200 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK.

It affects around 40 per 100,000 adults per year in the US, according to the National Cancer Institute. 

Patients have just a seven per cent chance of surviving for five years if they are diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer. In comparison, the odds are 97 per cent for those with stage one. 

Symptoms include bleeding from the bottom, blood in stools, a change in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss and abdominal pain.

The Essex women underwent surgery and rounds of chemotherapy after discovering tumour 

The Essex women underwent surgery and rounds of chemotherapy after discovering tumour 

Beth (pictured with her husband Richard) is recovering after being given the all-clear by doctors 

Beth (pictured with her husband Richard) is recovering after being given the all-clear by doctors 

Beth's family was stunned after her symptoms were ignored and dismissed for years 

Beth’s family was stunned after her symptoms were ignored and dismissed for years 

What is bowel cancer and what are the symptoms?

Bowel, or colorectal, cancer affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum.

Such tumours usually develop from pre-cancerous growths, called polyps.

Symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from the bottom
  • Blood in stools
  • A change in bowel habits lasting at least three weeks
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme, unexplained tiredness
  • Abdominal pain

Most cases have no clear cause, however, people are more at risk if they: 

  • Are over 50
  • Have a family history of the condition
  • Have a personal history of polyps in their bowel
  • Suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Lead an unhealthy lifestyle  

Treatment usually involves surgery, and chemo- and radiotherapy.

More than nine out of 10 people with stage one bowel cancer survive five years or more after their diagnosis.

This drops significantly if it is diagnosed in later stages. 

According to Bowel Cancer UK figures, more than 41,200 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK. 

It affects around 40 per 100,000 adults per year in the US, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk