Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Our practice

Making an appointment with the GI Doctors is easy. Simply visit our Contact page for all the information, including our phone number, email address and a useful enquiry form designed for your ease. One of our team will get back to you shortly with more information.

One of the reasons we formed a group of gastrointestinal specialists, is to ensure your waiting times are as short as possible. Our waiting times do vary depending on demand and our appointment allocation is based on the urgency of your case. If you call and speak with our experienced team they can advise you of our next available appointment.

A referral from a GP is one way to get an appointment with one of our doctors, however you can also book independently if you prefer.

Of course, if there is one of our doctors that you have been recommended, then this can be arranged. However, whilst all our doctors are highly experienced, some may have particular expertise in a condition, treatment or surgery technique so we may also suggest which doctor would be most suitable to take care of you.

At times there may also be more than one doctor involved in treating you, where you can benefit from their combined expertise.

No, private medical insurance isn’t required. There are self-pay options available to all our patients too.

Generally there are two payment options:
1. Private medical insurance
2. Self-pay

Find out more on our Fees & Insurance page.

Treatment costs vary. Find out more on our Fees & Insurance page. Our doctors will discuss all possibilities with you in advance, as we always aim to be completely transparent about the costs of our consultations and treatment.

Yes, we look after many overseas patients.

GI Doctors is a private clinic, which isn’t funded by the NHS. Payment options are either through private medical insurance or self-paying. Our consultants do hold NHS posts alongside their consultancy for GI Doctors but this route to diagnosis and treatment would need to be made in a different way, and usual waiting times would apply.

Our consultants have extensive experience diagnosing and treating gastrointestinal disorders. To find out more about our consultants visit our Meet the Doctors page.

An outpatient means you do not need a bed for the night and your visit to the clinic will be short, usually for a consultation, a scan or a simple procedure.

An inpatient means you will need to spend at least one night in the hospital, either to recover or for a series of treatments.

Bowel cancer

Yes, the bowel and colon are both names for the large intestine. Bowel cancer, colon cancer and colorectal and rectal cancer are essentially all cancers of the large intestine, although the name may vary depending on where the cancer started.

Bowel polyps are small, bony growths that attach to the lining of the colon. Sometimes they are harmless, but they can also be a pre-cursor for cancer so it is important to check any related symptoms, or get screened for bowel polyps once you reach a certain age, or fall into a higher risk category.

Many bowel polyps don’t create any symptoms, although some larger polyps may cause rectal bleeding when passing stools.

A colonoscopy exam can assess for bowel polyps and the endoscope used in the procedure can snip off polyps for biopsy, or to prevent them turning cancerous in the future.

Colon cancer is more common for men, with a 7% lifetime risk, compared to 5% for a woman, in the UK. Symptoms for both men and women include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain and a change in bowel movements, with frequent and persistent diarrhoea.

If a family member has a history of colon cancer, or bowel polyps then risk can be increased.

It is important to remember that survival rates are based on averages and it largely depends on the stage of development that the cancer is detected. There is almost 100% chance of recovery when colon cancer is diagnosed in Stage 1, however this falls to around 40% when the cancer is diagnosed and treated in Stage 4. Early diagnosis is the key to improving your chances of survival.

The options relating to bowel cancer treatment vary depending on how developed the disease is when diagnosed. Stage 1 treatment often involves just removing the cancerous bowel polyps from the lining of the colon. It is a simple procedure with low risk and minimal side effects. Treatment for Stage 4 bowel cancer may involve surgery, to remove the cancerous part of the colon, or the entire colon. This has significant life-changing effects, however it is sometimes the most successful treatment for this stage of cancer development.

Treatment options will be outlined and discussed in full with your doctor, and usually other options are explored before surgery takes place.

If you have a family member diagnosed under the age of 60 then your risk is increased. However, most cases of bowel cancer occur in people with no family history.

Blood when going toilet is one symptom of bowel cancer, however there are many other conditions that cause rectal bleeding. It is important to get diagnosed by a specialist doctor to find out what is the true cause of your symptoms so you can seek the most relevant treatment.

It isn’t possible to completely prevent getting bowel cancer, however you can lower your risk by eating a balanced diet, high in fibre and low in red and processed meats, reducing your alcohol intake and giving up smoking. Maintaining a healthy weight through exercise is also thought to reduce risk.

Bowel cancer can be diagnosed by a number of methods.

  1. A stool sample may give an indication of blood or abnormal DNA
  2. A sigmoidoscopy assesses the lower part of the colon
  3. A colonoscopy, which is the most thorough examination, assesses the entire colon for cancer
  4. A CT colonoscopy, is a non-invasive version of the colonoscopy used in some cases

Your doctor will discuss which is the most appropriate test for your symptoms.

The NHS currently provides a free bowel cancer-screening test if you are over 60. It is typically a stool test and if there are any abnormalities then further testing will be required. There is an increased risk of bowel cancer after age 45 so a private screening test is necessary for anyone wanting to take preventative action against the risk of bowel cancer, through early detection.

Bowel cancer screening

Bowel cancer screening is available on the NSH for everyone over age 55. If you want screening before this age then you will need to visit a private clinic. Some people over age 55 also choose to go to a private clinic for added peace of mind and shorter appointment times.

If you are between 50 and 55 years old, then you are still considered a moderate risk. Over the next decade it is estimated that 40,000 people in the UK, in this age bracket, will be diagnosed with bowel cancer.

If you are over 55 and have the chance to complete your bowel cancer test, then ensure you do as only 60% of those sent a bowel cancer test kit actually complete theirs.

The colonoscopy examination may be a little uncomfortable, although a small amount of sedative is used to ensure maximum comfort. The same applies for the sigmoidoscopy. If you are invited for a CT colonoscopy then this causes no pain as it is non-invasive and uses CT technology.

Sometimes symptoms will indicate bowel cancer, however they can often be similar to other gastroenterological conditions so the bowel cancer screening tests are important to determine the exact nature of the symptoms.

Your health is our goal

Whether your gastrointestinal symptoms started recently or are long-standing, our specialists can help diagnose and manage your condition. Please contact us to arrange a consultation with one of our specialist team. A consultation with a specialist to discuss the necessary diagnostic tests is the first step.