Case study of Early Diagnosis

Russell had regular screenings due to an inherited condition, which meant his cancer was caught early and successful treatment to follow.

Russell was just 17 when his Dad died after being diagnosed with bowel cancer. By then he’d already lost his Grandfather to bowel cancer, and Great Uncles and Great Grandfather to cancer.

He went to his GP, and given the history of cancer in his family, he was referred for checks at The Royal Marsden.

In 2009 (and 18 years after his father's death), new tests on Russell’s dad’s tumour revealed he had Lynch syndrome, an inherited condition which causes an increased risk of certain cancers including colorectal cancers. It is caused by a mutation in one of five different genes.

Russell was tested and found to also have Lynch syndrome. He immediately went onto a more regular bowel screening programme, coming in to The Royal Marsden every 18-months for a colonoscopy. This is a procedure which examines the large bowel, trying to detect small growths (polyps) on the bowel wall. If seen they can be removed and tested.

In August 2018, one colonoscopy showed Russell had a number of polyps. Biopsies of the growths revealed at least two were cancerous – and he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Left untreated he was told the cancer would advance very quickly within the year.

After further investigation he underwent keyhole surgery in October 2018 to remove part of the bowel. Russell has recovered well – he still has Lynch syndrome and will still be coming back for regular screening, but has a much lessened chance of developing cancer in the bowel.

Sadly, in losing my father I saved my life; finding out about the inherited condition meant I went onto the screening programme and was able to catch this early.

Russell, Bowel cancer patient

He says his experience at The Royal Marsden ‘restored his faith in humanity’, and what happened last year ‘was a reality check on life’.

Russell has a 2 year-old son, and of course this is on his mind. Freddie is too young to be tested for lynch syndrome. He adds, the regular checks whilst nerve - wracking, makes him feel reassured and that he’s in the right hands.