Bowel cancer: Deborah James on initial symptoms – ‘I knew there was something wrong’

“I’m under hospice at home care,” Dame Deborah announced via a social media update this week. As a bowel cancer patient, she’s known for campaigning for better awareness on the topic. Back in 2017, she took to her blog to share the initial signs that rang the alarm bells.

In January 2017, Dame Deborah penned about her symptoms she believed were pointing to the dreaded diagnosis, according to Wales Online.

Her worries were confirmed when she received the sad news of stage three bowel cancer diagnosis aged only 35.

Despite being young, a vegetarian, not overweight and not a smoker, she developed this diagnosis.

She wrote: “I was still losing weight, passing blood, going what felt like 100 times per day and feeling shattered.

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“I knew there was something wrong with me.”

Her initial blood tests and stool sample led her GP to suspect she might be suffering from an irritable bowel syndrome.

However, the 40-year-old host of the BBC’s You, Me and the Big C decided to pay for a private colonoscopy. 

This examination led to her having to start a treatment for an “ugly 5.5cm cancerous, ulcerated tumour”.


Bowel cancer is considered one of the most common cancer types in the UK.

This gloomy diagnosis affects nearly 43,000 people yearly.

The majority of patients are aged over 60, however, this isn’t always the case just like with Dame Deborah.

Apart from the symptoms the newly-made dame listed, the NHS adds other red flags to watch out for.

Tummy pain, bloating and discomfort will be triggered by eating in the case of bowel cancer.

Although most people with symptoms like these don’t have cancer, it’s still important to get checked, according to the NHS.

They recommend approaching your doctor when your symptoms have been persistent for three weeks.

Apart from breaking the sad news, the podcaster had a busy week during which she received a damehood in her family home and managed to raise more that £5million for charity through her Bowelbabe fundraiser.

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