Preston Oncologist on bowel cancer signs following death of Dame Deborah James

Dr. Deborah Williamson, a Consultant Clinical Oncologist at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals has warned of bowel cancer symptoms to look out for following Dame Deborah James death.

By Emma Downey
Friday, 1st July 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Friday, 1st July 2022, 9:58 am

Deborah, 47, who has worked at Lancs Teaching Hospitals as a consultant oncologist treating colorectal (bowel) cancer for 12 years, said: “I was saddened to hear of Deborah's death from bowel cancer, and I have been following her inspiring story.

"Whilst most people diagnosed with bowel cancer are over the age of 60, bowel cancer does also affect younger people, and this is evident in the patients we see referred to Lancashire Teaching Hospitals.”

She said the symptoms of bowel cancer to look out for are:

The late Dame Deborah James

A persistent change in bowel habit - which can be pooing more often, sometimes with looser or runny poos or tummy pain.

Blood in the poo or abdominal pain or discomfort which can be associated with eating.

She added: “It's important to say that most people with these symptoms do not have bowel cancer, but it is important to get checked out particularly if you have symptoms for three weeks or more.

“I think it is difficult to know how long cancer takes to spread, but we do know that if you can diagnose bowel cancer earlier then survival rates are better.

Dr. Deborah Williamson

"Survival rates in the UK have improved over the last 10 years, and for all patients diagnosed in the UK with bowel cancer 58 per cent will live more than five years. Survival rates are higher with earlier stage disease and so I would encourage everyone to attend for bowel cancer screening, or if they have any of the symptoms above, they should go and see their GP.

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“The highest bowel cancer incidence rates are in the 85-89 year old age group, but incidence does start to increase after 50.”

“Whilst Deborah's Bowelbabe message to "check your poo", has increased the number of people seeking advice about bowel symptoms, she has also done a lot more: her open and honest story has inspired patients with bowel cancer, encouraging people talk to their family and friends about living with cancer and treatment.”

Consultant Clinical Oncologist Deborah Williamson works at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals

She added that the public as a whole needed to support campaigns to raise awareness of bowel cancer, encourage people to go to their doctor if they have symptoms as well as promote development of clinical trials and research to improve treatment.

Cancer campaigner and journalist Deborah James, 40, who received a Damehood in her home by Prince William in May, was commended for all her fundraising efforts for Cancer Research which reached seven million from her Bowelbabe Fund.

She passed away on Tuesday following nearly a six year battle with the condition.

Amongst the many tributes, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said “Dame Deborah James was an "inspirational and unfalteringly brave woman whose legacy will live on", while Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed her as an "inspiration" and said that because of her campaigning work "many, many lives will be saved".

She is survived by her children, Eloise, 12, and Hugo, 14 and husband, Sebastien.