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Jennifer asked...

Tags: cancer

I went to my GP in January with pain in my lower right abdomen and a change in my bowel habits, which had become more frequent, with smaller stools and increased flatulence. I was supposed to have been referred to a consultant within two weeks (I did not realise that), but the request was never sent. Six weeks later my GP called to tell me this and to say that the request was being submitted then. I was about to go on holiday for three weeks, so missed the appointment, had to start again and finally have an appointment with a colorectal consultant this Thursday. The pain in my abdomen has since got worse, spread higher and the feeling of constipation has increased. My question is: if (as I am sure will be the case) I have to have a colonoscopy and the waiting time is apparently 2-3 weeks, could I opt to have the operation privately, but go back into the NHS for any subsequent treatment? If all future treatment would have to be private, is there any limit that could be put on that cost? And - is it likely that if there is cancer found, that the four months' delay in seeing a consultant will have dramatically damaged my prospects of treatment and recovery? Thank you.

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The Answer

It is certainly possible to have some procedures privately and then choose to go back to the NHS for subsequent treatments. You can simply ask the consultant if they can do it privately, or point you to a colleague who can. Although you have been referred as an urgent case, try not to panic about the delay affecting the diagnosis yet. There may be nothing serious wrong. You are seeing the specialist very soon, so make sure you take all your questions with you and hopefully you will be reassured very quickly.

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