June 12th, 2012

Ignoring piles can just pile on problems: As doctors say too many of us are embarrassed to seek help, one mother’s very cautionary story

Like many people, Linda Gunner did not enjoy visiting the doctor — but was particularly reluctant to seek help for piles.

The mother-of-two had been suffering from piles, also known as haemorrhoids, for almost a year, and although her doctor had told her to go back to her if the symptoms didn’t improve, she was too embarrassed.

‘It started off as a niggling problem — I’d had piles in the past during my two pregnancies, but in the previous 12 months they’d become more serious.’

Doctors are concerned that too often people dismiss rectal bleeding or blood in the stools as just a symptom of their piles, and don’t get it investigated

The condition, which causes swollen blood vessels around the back passage, triggering pain and bleeding, affects up to one in four of us at some point in our life.

But doctors are concerned that too often people dismiss rectal bleeding or blood in the stools as just a symptom of their piles, and don’t get it investigated.

The worry is that the bleeding could actually be a sign of bowel cancer.

Indeed, Linda, a 58-year-old legal secretary who lives with husband Steven, 58, a stonemason and their two daughters Emma, 25 and Sophie, 22, in Southminster, Essex, assumed her symptoms were simply her piles flaring up.

She used more cream to shrink the swollen blood vessels, and ate fibre such as Weetabix and wholemeal bread, as this is known to ease the symptoms by reducing the need to strain.

Her symptoms eased slightly and although they never disappeared completely Linda had no reason to suspect it was anything sinister.

But in October last year, nearly a year after her GP diagnosed piles, Linda was rushed to hospital.

‘I had noticed bleeding earlier in the evening but thought it would stop,’ she says.

‘But at 4am I woke up and realised I’d lost a lot of blood. Steve took me straight to A&E.’

Although initially Linda was told it was possibly due to one of the piles bursting, one doctor said he could feel a growth in her rectum, and advised further tests.

Embarrassment is a significant barrier to people seeking help for any rectal bleeding

She was booked in for a flexible sigmoidoscopy a few weeks later where a camera attached to a flexible tube is inserted through the rectum into the left side of the bowel — where statistically most cancers are found.

‘They asked if I wanted to watch the procedure on a TV screen, but I couldn’t bear to look. I thought it was disgusting,’ says Linda.

Tests revealed a cancerous growth in her bowel.

‘I burst into tears — I couldn’t believe it as I’d had no pain or unusual bowel symptoms and certainly hadn’t lost any weight or felt tired. I kept thinking they must have got it wrong as I felt so normal.’

Bowel cancer, also called colorectal cancer, causes around 16,250 deaths a year.

There are around 40,000 new cases annually and although the five-year survival rate is now 95 per cent if cancers are detected in the bowel at the earliest stage, this drops to six per cent for advanced cancers, and too many early cancers are being missed.

Symptoms include blood in stools, bleeding from the bottom, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness for no obvious reason, a change in bowel habit for more than three weeks (especially loose stools) and a pain or lump in the tummy.

But it’s also possible to have bowel cancer with no symptoms at all.

And because there is some overlap with the symptoms of haemorrhoids — including bleeding when passing stools and pain —  the two conditions can be confused.

Furthermore, because low-fibre diets and being overweight increase the risk of both conditions, experts say it is not uncommon for bowel cancer patients to have haemorrhoids as well.

‘All too often I’ll see patients with bowel cancer who say they’ve been experiencing  bleeding for two or three years but thought it was down to haemorrhoids,’ says bowel cancer specialist Dr Sean Preston, consultant gastroenterologist and general physician at Bart’s and the London NHS Trust and the private Princess Grace Hospital.

‘The truth is both haemorrhoids and bowel cancer can cause rectal bleeding and any such bleeding should be investigated to rule out  pre-cancerous polyps or bowel cancer, especially in the over-50s as most cases occur in this age group or where there is a family history of bowel cancer.’

Dr Preston says that the colour of the blood lost from the bowel can sometimes indicate whether it comes from a bowel growth, called a polyp, or haemorrhoids, but this is by no means a guarantee.

‘Although blood from piles tends to be bright red because it has a higher oxygen content (because it is closer to the outside of the body), than blood from further up the gut — both cancers and polyps can also cause bright red blood loss.

‘Darker blood tends to come from further up the colon and is not due to haemorrhoids.’

Embarrassment is a significant barrier to people seeking help for any rectal bleeding, adds Dr Preston.

‘We have to persuade patients to get over their embarrassment talking about bottoms and bowel movements — it’s a very British trait to want to avoid the subject.

‘When I see patients for the first time some can hardly look at me.

‘GP colleagues say patients will talk all around the subject before they admit that they have rectal bleeding — in fact some just go home without mentioning it at all.’

And Deborah Alsina, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, adds that a recent survey by the charity revealed that more than a quarter of people would put off going to the doctor with a potentially serious symptom because they would be too worried about the diagnosis.

‘Bleeding from your bottom does not necessarily mean you have bowel cancer.

‘However, even if you’ve had haemorrhoids, and you feel something is not right, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible,’ she advises.

Linda blames her embarrassment about discussing intimate problems for not getting her symptoms investigated sooner.

‘For any other part of my body I wouldn’t have hesitated to have tests but I couldn’t bear the thought of having my bottom prodded around,’ she says.

But this delay may have had serious repercussions.

In January this year, shortly after surgery to remove the cancerous growths from her bowel, Linda was given a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan, which uses radioactive drugs to detect cancerous cells.

It revealed a spot on her liver which was cancerous — and there were seven more of them.

‘The doctor reassured me these could be treated with chemotherapy which I’m having at the moment. I wish I’d seen a specialist about my piles earlier — further investigations may have found my cancer.

‘If you’ve got blood in your stools, get it investigated — it’s probably just piles, but sometimes it’s something more serious.’

bowelcanceruk.org.uk

May 1st, 2012

Here is an honest testimonial from a patient who was treated by Mr Simon Middleton.

Dear Mr Middleton

Before undergoing the HALO operation, it was very difficult to partake in all activities, including the simple things in life, such as hill walking. Read the rest of this entry »

April 24th, 2012

Halo Centres are available across the UK for treatment of haemorrhoids/piles.

Read more about our Consultant Colorectal Surgeon Mr Oliver Jones at Halocentre Oxford.

Mr Oliver Jones is a Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at the Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust. He works privately at the Manor Hospital (Oxford) and the Foscote Hospital (Banbury). He qualified in 1995 from the University of Oxford.

He undertook junior surgical training posts at Northwick Park and St Mark’s Hospitals in London. He then returned to Oxford for research into mechanisms of faecal continence and defaecation. This work won him prizes including the BJS Prize at the Association of Coloproctology, the Norman Tanner Prize at the Royal Society of Medicine and culminated in election as a Hunterian Professor at the Royal College of Surgeons in 2005.

He has published a book and around fifty journal articles and book chapters. He has an extensive interest in colorectal problems, particularly in complex laparoscopic (key-hole) colorectal surgery for benign and malignant disease. His other areas of specialist interest are pelvic floor problems (incontinence, obstructed defaecation and prolapse), haemorrhoids and fissures. He has extensive experience of HALO both during his surgical training and as a consultant.

At The British Haemorrhoid Centre we offer an efficient and professional service to all patients whether self funding, privately insured or NHS.

To make an appointment with one of our surgeons for a consultation to include a full diagnosis and treatment plan please do one of the following

By Telephone

Please call the customer services staff at The British Haemorrhoid Centre

(Halo Centre) on 020 3198 2424

 

April 17th, 2012

Halo Centres Around the UK

Halo Centres are available across the UK for treatment of haemorrhoids. Here is more about our Consultant Surgeon in London.

Simon Middleton is an experienced colorectal surgeon and Medical Director of the British Haemorrhoid Centre. He has the greatest experience of any UK surgeon in HALO and HAL-RAR and established the UK’s first HALO training centre in Reading, Berkshire, where consultant surgeons from around the United Kingdom are trained in the techniques. He has presented his work on HALO and HAL-RAR nationally and internationally and published in peer-reviewed journals.

Mr Middleton was appointed as consultant colorectal and general surgeon in Reading in 2001 where he runs an extensive practice in the management of disorders of the colon, rectum and anus. He is Surgical Tutor and Chairman of the Hospital Transfusion Committee. He is also Chairman of the Enhanced Recovery Programme committee.

He treats patients from the Reading area and receives referrals from Berkshire and nationally to provide a specialist opinion and treatment. A comprehensive database of treated patients reflects the excellent outcome from the procedure. One of his patients appeared in the national press and on television’s Good Morning to describe the procedure and successful outcome.

Mr Simon Middleton, MS FRCS (gen)

Medical Director – Consultant Colorectal Surgeon

Email: info@halocentre.com

At The British Haemorrhoid Centre we offer an efficient and professional service to all patients whether self funding, privately insured or NHS.

To make an appointment with one of our surgeons for a consultation to include a full diagnosis and treatment plan please do one of the following

By Telephone

Please call the customer services staff at The British Haemorrhoid Centre on

020 3198 2424

 

 

April 10th, 2012


Having Piles once doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get them again. There’s a lot you can do to help keep them away. And a few little changes can make a huge difference.

Piles can develop when there’s too much pressure on the abdomen. In some instances, like when you’re pregnant, this extra weight is hard to avoid. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent piles coming on or making a comeback.

  • Eat lots of high-fibre foods to keep things moving as they should. Bump up your brown rice, wholemeal bread, vegetable and fruit intake, and minimise the things that bind you up, especially refined and processed foods like cakes and biscuits.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water and fruit juices. But cut back on the coffee and alcohol – they can dehydrate you, and cause constipation.
  • Taking regular light exercise
  • Go to the toilet when you need to and don’t wait.

In most cases, your symptoms will clear up within a week or two. If they do not then please call us for more information and advice on HALO : a fast and effective Day Case Treatment for Haemorrhoids.

Call us or click here to book an appointment with us.

http://www.halocentre.com

 

 

April 3rd, 2012

One of the unfortunate results of Pregnancy can be Piles…your body has been undergoing a huge change over the last few months and as a New Mum, your Piles should be the last thing on your mind. There are many treatments and creams available over the counter for the immediate relief, but if they are persistent then we can help.

With an effective treatment working to relieve your symptoms, you can do even more to minimise your discomfort:

  • Wash your bottom with unperfumed soap after each bowel movement. Then dry off thoroughly by gently patting with a soft towel.
  • Wear loose, cotton underwear instead of synthetic fibres to keep the area as dry as possible.
  • Avoid using talcum powder.
  • Don’t stay standing or sitting longer than you have to. A warm bath can help with itching. You may find an ice pack does the trick as well.

In most cases, your symptoms will clear up within a week or two. If they do not then please call us for more information and advice on HALO : a fast and effective Day Case Treatment for Haemorrhoids.

Call us or click here to book an appointment with us.


 

 

March 30th, 2012

Haemorrhoids are swellings that can occur in the anus and lower rectum (back passage).

There is a network of small veins (blood vessels) within the inside lining of the anus and lower rectum.

Read the rest of this entry »

March 30th, 2012

Click here to download this article

March 30th, 2012

The following artice is from the Bristol Evening Post (May 2010):

Pioneering op for former City star

A FORMER Bristol City player has undergone a pioneering procedure to treat his piles.

Gerry Sweeney, who played more than 400 games for the team in the 70s and 80s, blames his match-day routine for the painful haemorrhoids he suffered in later life.

The 64-year-old, who now works as a window cleaner, underwent the HALO (haemorrhoid artery ligation operation), at Spire Bristol Hospital.

Mr Sweeney, of Portishead, said: “I got caught short on the training ground once, so after that I used to make myself go to the toilet before going out to play, and I think that is where the problem started.”

He was part of the side that reached the old First Division under Alan Dicks and was a member of the famous Ashton Gate Eight, who agreed to have their long-term contracts torn up in order to save the debt-ridden club from going under in 1982.

Mr Sweeney was referred to the private hospital on the Downs after his piles worsened. He said: “I had the operation earlier this year and since then it has been a thousand times better. In fact, the piles have disappeared altogether and my life has returned to normal.”

Consultant Paul Sylvester said: “HALO is performed as a day case under a light anaesthetic or sedation. It only takes about 20 minutes and the patient can return to work soon afterwards. It involves cutting off the blood supply feeding the piles and has a 90 per cent success rate.”

March 30th, 2012

Dear Mr Middleton

Before undergoing the HALO operation, it was very difficult to partake in all activities, including the simple things in life, such as hill walking. The procedure provided a quick and easy solution to a condition, which caused years of pain and sometimes embarrassment, which I had suffered with since the age of 15. I only wish that the HALO procedure existed sooner, as it puts your life back on track almost immediately after the operation.

There was a slight discomfort after the operation however this was far outweighed by the knowledge of the long term benefits I would gain after a full recovery. One week after the operation, I flew to New Jersey, USA, without problems and carried on with my life confidently and without restrictions.

This procedure has improved my life dramatically and I strongly recommend HALO to anybody who is held back by this unfortunate condition.

Alison Robinson
Patient


Charles House, Three Mile Stone, Truro, Cornwall TR4 9FB UK
T: +44 (0) 20 3198 2424 | F: +44 (0) 20 3198 2421 E: info@halocentre.com

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