'I missed these five symptoms, and now my cancer can't be cured'

A man who has been told he has incurable bowel cancer says there were five red flag signs he missed, that could have seen him diagnosed earlier. Journalist Robert Fisk says the main emotion he feels after the diagnosis is guilt.

Writing in The Express, he said: "If I had paid more attention to possible symptoms of the disease my family and friends wouldn't have to be preparing for the fact that only 11 per cent of people in my position survive longer than five years."

Robert was diagnosed last year, and part of the reason for the delay was that he had also had meningitis. Some of the symptoms of this cancer were mistaken for symptoms of the infection. He said doctors in the hospital 'were only looking for what they thought they would find, instead of investigating all potential issues'.

Robert is now urging people to look out for the symptoms. He said: "I missed these five signs but if you experience any of them you should say something to your GP. They might not be a sign that there's cancer but no matter what the issue is the sooner you say something the sooner you can be treated."

Extreme tiredness/fatigue

Robert said: "I was convinced I was tired because I wasn't getting enough vitamins in my diet. Most of the time I was exhausted and couldn't put my finger on why." He added: "If you're feeling like your level of tiredness is much higher than normal I'd advise you to see your GP as it might be a symptom of a bigger issue."

Back pain

Robert said: "I wasn't alarmed when I had a slight pain in my lower back after sitting in the back of a car or after sitting at my desk at home. This pain disappeared after my first chemotherapy session, making me think it might have actually been caused by a tumour."

Blood in your poo

Robert said: "This is a big clue that there may be bowel cancer or another issue with your body and you should tell your GP as soon as you can. Until being diagnosed with bowel cancer I always wondered how someone was able to detect this and I'd suggest that the best thing to do is to look for blood or a reddish tinge on the toilet paper when you use the loo."

Robert said: "A simple home test ... revealed that there was blood in my poo and my bowel cancer 'journey' began."

Stabbing pains when using the toilet

Robert said: "If they'd happened every time I went to the toilet I would have told my GP about the stabbing pains I experienced. But they went away as quickly as they came so I did not book an appointment to flag them as an issue.!

Extreme weight loss

Robert said: "After my stay in hospital for meningitis I weighed myself to see how much weight I'd lost. I was delighted that after two weeks of vomiting and diarrhoea I'd lost almost two stone and was going to be beach body ready.

"My GP didn't see it that way and flagged that such weight loss wasn't healthy and was probably caused by an issue inside me. If you do find yourself rapidly losing weight and there's no explanation for it then get yourself a doctor's appointment."