In December 2018, when I was 90 years old, a cancerous rectal polyp of about 3 cm in length was diagnosed by a CT colonography scan and confirmed by same-day biopsies following a rectal bleeding incident at home. A previous scan in 2011 showed no rectal cancer. Given the short length and the relatively recent ‘no cancer’ scan my doctors suspected that this was probably an early stage rectal cancer.
A Macmillan Cancer Nurse explained to me that there were currently two possible therapies:
either the standard surgical technique involving removal of the rectum and creation of a new opening in the belly requiring a colostomy bag to collect the waste matter;
or a non-surgical “Papillon” technique requiring a few outpatient treatments using a X-ray therapy device placed inside my rectum in direct contact with the polyp.
I discussed the options with my family who all strongly advised me to choose the “Papillon” therapy, and I was referred to Professor Myint at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre near Liverpool.
I started the “Papillon” therapy with two visits in January 2019, followed by a short course of radiotherapy at a hospital close to home in February, and finished the “Papillon” therapy with a visit in March and another in April 2019.
Today, July 2020, there remains some scarring at the polyp site, but follow-up endoscopies, scans and a biopsy have all confirmed that I have neither polyp nor metastasis.
I have now been cancer-free for one year. I am really very pleased with this result.
I would like to sincerely thank everyone involved and share my hope that, for future patients, the “Papillon” technique becomes the standard initial therapy for early stage rectal cancer.