Scottish mother’s cancer misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome

A terminally ill mother-of-two has criticised her GP practice after being told she had Irritable Bowel Syndrome which turned out to be stage 4 metastatic bowel cancer.

Linzi Page saw her doctor in January 2018 after suffering changes in her bowel movements and bleeding.

The 36-year-old said her GP was “very dismissive” telling her it was probably Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) then going on to do a routine blood test and take a stool sample that showed nothing irregular.

Mrs Page told The Scotsman she knew things were not right before going back to see her doctor three months later. The project manager, saw another GP at her local Burntisland Medical Group, in Fife, who sent her for an urgent colonoscopy. She was told a few days later that she had stage 4 metastatic bowel cancer and was given a maximum of just two years to live.

Linzi Page, 36, has terminal bowel cancer and is raising money for treatment not on the NHS in Scotland. She is pictured with her children Calan, 5, and Charlotte, 2, at their home in Burntisland, Fife

Mrs Page, who has a five-year-old son Calan and two-year-old Charlotte, is now crowdfunding to raise £22,000 to pay for intraveanous treatment Avastin which is not available on the NHS in Scotland.

The hope is cycles of the drug, which costs around £2,200 a time, will help prolong Mrs Page’s life. So far she has raised £11,950 and will begin her first treatment in April.

She said: “Probably typical of everyone who is at a young age - the doctor was very dismissive.

“They said ‘it’s probably IBS’ - then they did the routine blood test and took a stool sample, then it was all forgotten about. I just knew myself that something wasn’t right. I still had bleeding, there was too much blood and I was the one who pushed for further tests.

“I went back to my GP in April and told them ‘this just doesn’t feel right at all and I just don’t buy that it’s IBS’.

She added: “I naively thought that it couldn’t be cancer as nothing had ever been mentioned by the medical professionals. I didn’t in a million years expect the results to come back showing bowel cancer. I was absolutely devastated when they took me into a little side room by myself to tell me - it’s not what I expected at all”.

Mrs Page’s story comes weeks after we told of Kelly Clarkson also from Fife, whose two-year-old daughter Megan died from a rare form of lung cancer in January - which was missed by a succession of GPs at her local medical practice in Kirkcaldy. Mrs Clarkson was constantly told her daughter had nothing more than an upper respiratory tract infection and that ‘some kids cough’. She is now seeking answers from NHS Fife and her medical centre.

Mrs Page added: “My frustration is with the doctors, it doesn’t enter their head - if you’re young they just think it’s IBS, that’s their first reaction.

“They never consider the possibility that it could be bowel cancer and decide to send you for a colonoscopy.

“If I went when I was 60 they would have sent me for a colonoscopy right away, but when I presented these symptoms at age 35 that’s not the doctors initial reaction. Unfortunately, by the time younger people do get diagnosed because we go through the process - it’s too late for us.”

She is now looking to make the most of the time she has left with her husband Mark and the children.

Mrs Page said: “I literally cannot think about my situation day-to-day, it’s like I’m talking about myself in the third person. If I do think about it I will get very depressed and part of cancer is the mental battle to keep yourself going. So I just can’t think about it as I want to spend as much time with my kids as I can.

“I want my children to know I’ve done everything I can to be with them for as long as possible. It really is so much more special the time I’ve got with them.”

Dr Chris McKenna, medical director of NHS Fife, said: “We are unable to comment on the care of individual patients for reasons of confidentiality.”