Interview 42

Age at interview: 60
Brief Outline: In 2006 her Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test was abnormal, so she had a colonoscopy. Three small polyps were removed. She had a right hemi-colectomy to remove a larger polyp, which was not malignant.
Background: A white British woman, a housewife, married, with 2 children.

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In 2000 she was invited to take part in a pilot study which involved screening people for bowel cancer. Her first Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test, in 2000, was normal. In 2004 she did another test which was unclear, so she repeated the test, and this time it was normal. When she did the Faecal Occult Blood test in 2006 the result was abnormal because blood was found in the stool sample. A repeat test was also abnormal, so she was invited to have a colonoscopy. During the colonoscopy three small polyps were removed from the bowel. She had one other larger polyp. This was sent for a biopsy and not found to be malignant [cancerous], but the doctor advised her to have part of the bowel removed, a right hemi-colectomy, because he was not sure how far the polyp was embedded in the bowel wall. The doctor also said that the polyp might become cancerous over a number of years. The operation went well, though afterwards she was ill because she had an infection, which she was told was MRSA. She will have another colonoscopy in three years time to check that the bowel is normal.

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She didn't mind getting the unclear or abnormal results by post.

And to go back to when you got the results, the results come though the post in a letter, was that alright getting the results in a letter, or would you have rather gone to the hospital to get the results?

No, I didn't mind it coming through the post, but when you saw the letter you, you sort of knew that you would have to do another screen, another screening. And you know, that wasn't very nice, you sort of tend not to open it to start off with. You know, you wait a while [laughs], but you know you've got to open it, and you know what it's all about so. But no, I didn't mind that, it didn't matter [getting a letter] about going to the hospital.

It was alright getting it in the post?


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The doctor found four polyps in her bowel. Three were removed during the colonoscopy and she felt...

So then I was booked into the hospital for the colonoscopy and I was a bit worried about it, because I didn't, you know, really know what to expect, although they explained everything to me. I didn't know what was going to happen afterwards really. It was finding the results out. And anyway I went, and they were all very nice there. And they did the colonoscopy. And it didn't hurt. I was given a sedative, just put out, just very lightly. And I could see it all up on screen, and they found four polyps.

And they started from half a centimetre and they went up, and the biggest one was two and a half centimetres. And that one they had doubts with. They lasered the other three smaller ones and they found that they were alright. But they left the bigger one and said I needed an operation. 


Because they didn't know how far to go into the bowel wall. So then I was booked in for an operation.

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When she woke up she learnt that she had to have an operation to remove a polyp. At the time they...

Did they tell you what they found at the time? 

They did tell me that they'd found four polyps and they was varying in size from half a centimetre up to two and a half centimetres. The three smaller ones they did laser, and they took biopsies of those, and they said that they wasn't cancerous. And also they'd took a sample of the big one, and they found that that wasn't cancerous, but they, left that because it was too far in the bowel wall, as they didn't really know if it was cancerous after that.

I see. So you, what were your feelings at that stage?


This was after you'd come round, after you were recovering from the colonoscopy. Did they tell you all this, or did you have to go back and see them?

No, I think the nurse came and told me after I'd come round, I think she, I think that's when they did tell me actually. And, I don't know, I don't really know what's, what I felt like, when she said I'd got to have the, you know, the operation, they'd prefer to do the operation. It was, it just felt strange.

Thinking, I've got to go through that, and then, was it, have I got cancer or not? 

And, it was just, I just could not take it in at that time.

It must have been hard?

It was, you know, it was a little bit because you know, I didn't know, whether it was, like I say, whether it was cancer or not, and then, well why should I have to have the operation?

So the big polyps didn't appear to be cancerous, but they were worried because it was so embedded in the bowel wall, was it cancerous deep down?

Deep down.

Was that what they were worried about?

Yes, that was what they was worried about yeah.

I see. And that was why they wanted to do the operation.

And that was why they wanted to do the operation.

Did you have to go back again after the colonoscopy, to discuss all this again with the nurse or the surgeon? Or did you just then have to get on, go in again?

I went back to see the surgeon, and he explained it all, and the reason why they was doing it. And showed me a diagram and explained it all to me, and said what part they would probably take out.

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Part of her bowel was removed because the polyps in her bowel were considered potentially malignant.

They did a right hemi-colectomy, which is taking three quarters of the bowel away. It wasn't very nice, really. I went in on the Tuesday and you have to have enemas, you have to empty all your bowels before you have the operation, which wasn't a very nice experience.

And then when you have to go down for your operation they give you an epidural and they put needles in your back and then they spray some freeze stuff on your back, and then you, you just have to lie down on a trolley, and then they start giving you the anaesthetics then. I don't know how long the operation lasts. I woke up later in the day, was a bit sore, but not too bad. And they give you some morphine as well, but I didn't use it because I was in no pain, although I had had some pain killers. I didn't have any more after that because I wasn't in any pain. The operation, as far as that was concerned, it seemed quite good. There was no soreness. Where they cut you from is just under the'breast and half way down to your tummy. It's healing quite nice now, it's almost disappeared, although I'll not be able to wear a bikini.

So what are you're feelings now, looking back on it all?

'I'm glad that they found it. I'm still a bit, not very happy that they had to do it and they didn't find any cancer at the time, but then with them saying that in five years time the polyps would turn into cancer, some of the polyps what are in, in your bowel, they don't turn into cancer, but mine would've done so...I'm glad they've found that. As for the operation, I had no problems with that whatsoever, no real pain apart from the first day when they come to wash your back down and change your sheets [laughs] and you do have to go onto your side. That's a bit awkward. But no, apart from say that, and a few little niggles, you know, nothing really. The operation, it was marvelous, I just can't thank the consultant enough really for what he, you know, for what he did there. And the scar, the scar has healed up.

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