Man, 34, prescribed allergy creams by GP but actually had a deadly rare cancer

3 min read

A young man’s rare cancer was initially mistaken for an allergy after he experienced severe itching.

Alex Watson, 34, was prescribed allergy creams after going to his GP in July this year complaining of itchy skin and problems with his urine.

But just three days later his condition worsened.

Alex, from Tunbridge Wells, said: “When I woke up on the Monday I saw jaundice in the whites of my eyes and my top half of the torso had a yellowy tint to it.

“I called my GP back and they recommended I go to A&E.

“I had a series of scans and stayed there for 15 hours in total being transferred from one department to another.”

These tests revealed the lorry driver had neuroendocrine tumour growing in his pancreas – a rare form of the disease that can grow anywhere.

It is estimated to affect just four in 100,000 adults each year, and often leaves the sufferer with no symptoms.

But, luckily, due to the position of Alex’s tumour, it caused issues elsewhere in the body allowing the problem to be spotted.

“Things could’ve been a lot worse so I’m glad I went in when I did,” Alex said.

“Because of where the cancer was the tumour was blocking the bile duct preventing bile from being excreted.

“This meant it was ending up in my bloodstream causing the severe itchiness.”

Alex said the diagnosis came as a “huge shock” to both him and his family, including his partner Kristlin.

He recalled: “It was the fear of the unknown and when you hear that it’s like your worst nightmare.

“It was tough to hear it but now looking back I’m so grateful to be here and explain everything and tell my story.”

In October, Alex underwent an eight-hour operation to remove the tumour as well as the head of the pancreas, the first part of the small intestine, the gallbladder and the bile duct.

This month Alex was given the all-clear and is preparing to return to work.

He is also working to raise awareness of the disease as well as fundraising cash for Neuroendocrine Cancer UK, with a live music event that has so far garnered more than £1,000.

“I’ve had donations from people I haven’t even met which is crazy but please keep donating,” he said.

“We want to raise as much money as we can and get as many people as possible to come down with their families and friends.

“Thank you to everyone who is supporting me from the bottom of my heart.”

Alex added: “What I would say to anyone who doesn’t feel right, just go and get yourself checked, it could save your life.”

According to the NHS, symptoms of a neuroendocrine tumour depend on where in the body it is and what hormones it produces.

“For example, a tumour in the digestive system (gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumour) may cause diarrhoea, constipation or tummy pains,” the health body says.

A tumour in the lung (pulmonary neuroendocrine tumour) may cause wheezing or a persistent cough.

The health body adds: “Some tumours may lead to abnormally large amounts of hormones being released into the bloodstream.

“These are known as ‘functioning tumours’ and can cause symptoms such as diarrhoea, flushing, cramps, wheezing, low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia), changes in blood pressure and heart problems.”

If you experience any unexplained symptoms or have any concerns you should speak to your GP.

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