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Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie’s four-year battle with cancer – signs

Bowel cancer: Dr Amir explains symptoms to look out for

In the UK, bowel cancer is the fourth most common form of the disease and second most deadly, accounting for almost 17,000 deaths a year.

Also known as colorectal cancer, it refers to cancer that starts in the large bowel – the colon – or the rectum.

Therefore, the disease can also be distinguished as colon or rectal cancer depending on where it starts.

Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie was diagnosed with colon cancer in October 2013.

As a result of his diagnosis the band cancelled the remaining dates of their world tour that year so he could undergo treatment.

READ MORE George Alagiah’s first bowel cancer symptoms as the BBC newsreader dies aged 67

At the time a statement from fellow band members Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham said: “We hope our Australian and New Zealand fans as well as Fleetwood Mac fans everywhere will join us in wishing John and his family all the best.”

Luckily his condition improved with treatment allowing McVie, now 77, to play with the band the following year.

And in 2017 it was reported that the disease was in remission.

However, more recently his bandmate and ex-wife Christine told the BBC he was unlikely to tour again.

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In 2021 she said: “[John] is feeling a little bit frail. You know he was ill. He’s fine, but he just hasn’t got the heart for it any more.

“He wants to get on his boat. You reach a certain age where you go: ‘Hey, I’m not going to bust a gut doing this anymore.’”

Symptoms of bowel cancer

The most common signs of bowel cancer are a change in your toilet habits.

Cancer Research UK says: “Symptoms of bowel cancer can include a change in your normal bowel habit or blood in your poo.

“They can also be symptoms for other conditions, but it’s important to see your doctor.”

Signs of the disease that you would notice on the toilet include:

  • Bleeding from the back passage (rectum) or blood in your poo
  • A change in your normal bowel habit, such as looser poo, pooing more often or constipation
  • A feeling of needing to strain in your back passage (as if you need to poo), even after opening your bowels.

However, there are other symptoms including:

  • A lump that your doctor can feel in your back passage or tummy (abdomen), more commonly on the right side
  • Losing weight
  • Pain in your abdomen or back passage
  • Tiredness and breathlessness caused by a lower than normal level of red blood cells (anaemia).

In some cases the cancer can cause a bowel obstruction.

If this happens you could experience:

  • Cramping pains in the abdomen
  • Feeling bloated
  • Constipation and being unable to pass wind
  • Being sick.

This is a medical emergency.

“You should see your doctor quickly or go to A&E at your nearest hospital if you think you have a bowel obstruction,” Cancer Research UK says.

If you experience any symptoms of bowel cancer you should see your GP as soon as possible.

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  • Posted on July 26, 2023