A woman had to have emergency surgery to remove two-thirds of her colon after GPs failed to spot "red flag" symptoms for a year - with one putting her weight loss down to anorexia.
Charlie Puplett, 45, raised concerns with her GP in May 2019 after experiencing unexplained weight loss, lack of appetite, a change in bowel habits, a tender abdomen, stomach pain and bloating.
The practice carried out tests but none of them were for colon cancer.
A year later, in April 2020, Puplett called an ambulance after vomiting blood and faeces while clapping for NHS workers outside her home during lockdown, and was taken to Yeovil Hospital where she was diagnosed with colon cancer.
She underwent an emergency operation to remove two-thirds of her colon and a tumour and also needed a stoma.
An investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) found her original symptoms should have been red flags leading to urgent attention.
Puplett says she now feels unable to trust anyone and needed therapy for PTSD after her experience.
The risk management controller, from Yeovil, Somerset, said: “I kept going back to the practice and they just fobbed me off.
"They didn’t listen to me at all. I saw a different doctor each time, one of whom suggested I had anorexia and was in denial."
Following a complaint to the PHSO, which investigates unresolved complaints about the NHS, the Ombudsman found staff at the practice should have suspected cancer and referred Puplett for further investigation within two weeks.
If she had been referred appropriately, she would have had a planned keyhole procedure, rather than unnecessary emergency surgery and a stoma, it said.
She also would not have needed a further operation a year later to remove the stoma, the investigation concluded.
The Ombudsman recommended the surgery pay Charlie £2,950 for its failures and put an action plan in place to prevent anything similar happening in the future.
Puplett said: "I’ve got a second chance and I’m thankful for that, but it’s had a huge effect on my life.
"I still experience severe lack of sleep and restlessness, and I’m constantly living in fear that any health issue will turn into something worse. My confidence and self-esteem are through the floor and I have problems trusting anyone."
She added: "I don’t want this to happen to anybody else, which is why I took my complaint to the Ombudsman. I have to fight not just for myself but for other people too.
"Everyone needs to listen to their bodies. I knew something was wrong but I listened to the professionals who told me everything was okay. If you’re worried, demand things are checked out and get a second opinion if you need it."
Ombudsman Rob Behrens said: "Charlie was failed by the professionals who she went to for help and the effect on her life has been significant. Not only did she have to undergo unnecessary surgery, but it has also affected her emotional wellbeing.
"We cannot change what happened but it’s important that when mistakes are made, organisations acknowledge what has happened and commit to learning from these mistakes to prevent it from happening again."