To tell GP he missed my cancer?

(81 Posts)

I'll try to be as brief as possible, and to avoid being too graphic!

I started having bowel problems about three years ago, aged about 19. I mentioned it every time I saw my GP and repeatedly asked about any tests they could do to see what was causing it. My aunt is coeliac so I was concerned it was that. Eventually about a year after my first complaint, I had a coeliac test, which was negative, but symptoms were worsening. I decided to try a gluten free diet anyway and symptoms seemed to improve. GP said if I had two negative coeliac results it would be "unusual" hmmconfused so he might contact a gastroenterologist about it (not refer me, just ask them), so asked me to reintroduce gluten. He then refused me the test as I'd already had a negative one.

In April last year I started having some blood when I went to the loo. It was relatively bright red. I mentioned it to the doctor who told me it was piles and that he "could do an examination but I'd need to get a chaperone and it would be a lot of hassle and take a lot of our time" so I agreed not to have an examination, more fool me. The blood seemed to have stopped after a while.

I then moved home and changed GP, my symptoms worsened and to cut a long story a little shorter I was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer and FAP.

If he had just done an examination he would have found that I had no piles and could have referred me sooner so it might have been caught at an earlier stage.

To confuse matters I'm now back at the surgery with the GP who missed the cancer, but have avoided seeing him.

Some people have suggested I ought to let him, or the practice manager, know that he missed the diagnosis. I am not angry or trying to make him feel guilty, but if I warn him then he will avoid making the same mistakes in future. However, it is unlikely he will ever see another case of FAP with no family history as it is a rare condition, and also unlikely to see another university student with bowel cancer, so it might come across as being vengeful or malicious.

What do you think?

Coffeenowplease Wed 23-Oct-13 12:09:43

Always worth pointing out I would have thought.

The no examination thing and putting you off having one is very poor. I would have a dim view of that tbh.

Coffeenowplease Wed 23-Oct-13 12:10:01

Also - hope you are ok now !

MissMuesli Wed 23-Oct-13 12:10:47

I think you should tell him. It is unlikely but then so were you. A reminder that there is always an exception to every rule wouldn't be a bad thing here. Hope you are ok OP x

Pogosticks Wed 23-Oct-13 12:11:37

Oh you poor poor thing, what a terrible thing to go through.

Definitely report this. Who cares if it seems vengeful? It could make a massive different to another patient in future.

My mum had cancer which was not spotted by GP for a very long time despite lots of visits and so on. GP was very dismissive and my dad put in a complaint of some sort. Eventually the GP apologised and acknowledged his mistake, which was all my dad wanted all along - to prevent it happening to someone else.

Best of luck RubyTuesday (love that song!)

Roshbegosh Wed 23-Oct-13 12:12:15

Yes tell him. Ask him if on reflection he thinks he was negligent.

kali110 Wed 23-Oct-13 12:14:25

A lot of gps wont refer for tests due to unlikelyhood of it being cancer at a young age.
Im really sorry about your diagnosis.
I had same worrying symptoms, i only got to see a specialist due to family history.
Do understand you being so angry though.
Gp missed my dads cancer, broken ribs and a near collapsed lung.

JudithOfThePiece Wed 23-Oct-13 12:15:29

I would definitely let him know. As rare as it is, I think it is irresponsible for a doctor not to examine you when you had blood like that. I was a similar age when I first went to my doctor about such symptoms and I have lost count of the amount of times I have now had such examinations. Many years later, I have been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, not cancer, but I am grateful it has been checked out. As it bloody well should have been.

He diagnosed you, incorrectly, with piles. Even if you had had piles, some piles do actually need further attention themselves, so how could he dismiss you without examining you?

I think writing a letter addressed to him and the practice manager would be a good idea. However, if you are not comfortable doing so and don't want to, don't feel you have to. I just think you would be very reasonable to do so, if you want to.

Best wishes for whatever treatment you are having.

JudithOfThePiece Wed 23-Oct-13 12:16:45

By the way, not referring you for further tests is not the same thing as not even examining you in his surgery for piles. He diagnosed you without any examination and that's just not on, I don't think!

Actually not only would I tell him I would also lodge an official negligence complaint

Sounds like you have him plenty of opportunity to investigate and he chose not to

Best of luck x

mignonnette Wed 23-Oct-13 12:24:35

His reason was nonsense. He should have arranged to bring the practice nurse in or made a new appointment for when she was free.

There is no excuse if he said and did what he did. He was negligent and to push it onto you by implying an examination would be a 'hassle' is even worse.

Disgraceful. Sometimes cancers do 'hide' and it is explainable as to why they were missed. But this GP did not even try.

So wish you could name and shame when any actions are over. This is what some HCPs deserve.

DropYourSword Wed 23-Oct-13 12:24:52

I don't generally like the idea of people reporting just to be vengeful, but in this car I think it's important to bring this back to your GP, so he can reject on his practice and provide better care next time. We all learn from our mistakes...he made a mistake which can't be undone for you, but it could help him not make the same mistake in a future similar situation.

mignonnette Wed 23-Oct-13 12:26:45

This is not vengeful. It is to hopefully prevent another 'you' from walking out thinking all is well when it is not.

He needs retraining.

I wish you loads of luck for the future Ruby flowers

BrandybuckCurdlesnoot Wed 23-Oct-13 12:26:53

Sorry you have been through this GRT.

I would contact the surgery by letter, yes.

The exact same thing happened to my Mum. Same symptoms, passed off as piles, IBS and then an ulcer for over a year. Eventually she was referred to hospital for a camera after seeing a Locum and they found it. She had almost all of her bowel removed as a result. We were extremely angry with the GP and it seems to happen too much

TheCrumpetQueen Wed 23-Oct-13 12:28:38

I think you should tell him or the practice manager

Flojobunny Wed 23-Oct-13 12:30:36

FAP?

harticus Wed 23-Oct-13 12:31:52

Don't write.
Tell him in person - eye to eye.
Tell him to make sure this never happens again.
It will be a conversation he will never forget and may well save someone's life.

I am sorry you have had to go through this - from one cancer patient to another.

CiderBomb Wed 23-Oct-13 12:35:15

Yes please do tell him.

A family friend of mine was repeatedly told by his GP that he was suffering migraines, the "migraines" were in fact a brain tumour which was only picked up on after he was rushed to hospital following a seizure. His family then marched en masse to the surgery and demanded to see the GP in person to let him know of his gross negligence.

Things like this make me so angry. We know in ourselves when something isn't right and we're being fobbed off.

ercoldesk Wed 23-Oct-13 12:36:51

What a horrible situation for you. I hope you are well now. From experience though (not cancer, but a serious illness) my GPs reaction on being told (after private referral) that there was actually something wrong said "well you'll be happy now, your own diagnosis was right".

6 years on, DD has only just been discharged. Happy is not the word I'd have attached to how we felt then. sad

Be sure you can cope with a stupid, defensive response if you do say something.

BrandybuckCurdlesnoot Wed 23-Oct-13 12:37:16

Is FAP non malignant polyps that turn cancerous? That is what my Mother had.

CiderBomb Wed 23-Oct-13 12:43:31

I hate how everything is fobbed off as IBS these days. I apparently have it, but I've never had a colonoscopy or scan to rule anything more serious out. I've had a couple of blood tests to look for inflammation which is apparently a symptom of crohns or colitis, but a blood test would never pick up cancer would it?

I have a family history of bower cancer as my grandad is a survivor. It's very concerning to hear stories like the OP's, bowel cancer has an excellent survival rate if caught early enough. Things like this shouldn't be happening.

Hope you are ok now. I would definitely write a letter to the practice manager.

TEErickOrTEEreat Wed 23-Oct-13 12:44:10

I wouldn't just tell him, I'd lodge a formal complaint. It was his arrogance and unwillingness to actually examine you that led to him missing the actually problem.

That's negligence.

schnockles Wed 23-Oct-13 12:52:50

Lodge a formal complaint. Your GP should have sent you for further testing, even without the potential piles examination, due to the blood in your stools and previous stomach complaints. He was negligent and this might happen again - not because they're 'too young' or whatever but because he is not doing his job properly.

Hope all your treatment goes well.

Zoway Wed 23-Oct-13 12:55:30

I would let him know yes. I hppe u r ok now.

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