Manchester mum died of bowel cancer after GP surgery told her she had irritable bowel syndrome

Helen Dutton's family has now asked lawyers to investigate the circumstances around her death.
Helen Dutton, middle with husband Darren and daughter Lilli-Mai. (Picture: Irwin Mitchell)Helen Dutton, middle with husband Darren and daughter Lilli-Mai. (Picture: Irwin Mitchell)
Helen Dutton, middle with husband Darren and daughter Lilli-Mai. (Picture: Irwin Mitchell)

A heartbroken family has been left to pick up the pieces after a Manchester mum died from bowel cancer - after doctors told her she just had irritable bowels.

Helen Dutton, from Manchester, went to her GP surgery in October 2016 with abdominal cramps and bleeding. After blood tests, she was told her symptoms were "likely to be" irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and was prescribed medication. Two years later, she went back to the GP surgery with backpain and unrelenting bowel issues.

After a referral for a colonoscopy, she was diagnosed with bowel cancer, which had spread despite treatment. Helen, who was mum to Lilli-Mai, now 17, died in August 2021.

Husband Darren, a tradesman, said: "Helen had struggled with her bowels for a while but when she was told it was likely to be IBS, we trusted the professionals. To then be given the news that she had cancer was a huge shock.

"Helen and I had been together for almost 20 years and I couldn’t imagine not spending the rest of my life with her. She was determined to fight the cancer with everything she had.

"Sadly, it wasn’t enough and our beloved Helen was taken from us far too soon. She was the best mum to Lilli-Mai and to see our daughter having to navigate through life without her mum is heartbreaking. We have so many unanswered questions and while we would give anything to have Helen back, we know that’s not possible.

"All we can hope for now is that by sharing our story, we can raise awareness of bowel cancer and its symptoms. Watching Helen suffer towards the end was unbearable and catching the disease early could be the difference between life and death.

"If we can save another person by speaking out, it will have been worth it."

Helen Dutton was told she "likely" had IBS - but it was actually bowel cancer. (Picture: Irwin Mitchell)Helen Dutton was told she "likely" had IBS - but it was actually bowel cancer. (Picture: Irwin Mitchell)
Helen Dutton was told she "likely" had IBS - but it was actually bowel cancer. (Picture: Irwin Mitchell)

An investigation into Helen's death is now being carried out by medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell.

Lawyer Nicola Ashton said: "The last two-and-a-half years have been incredibly difficult for Helen’s loved ones, particularly Darren and their daughter Lilli-Mai, who have understandably been struggling to come to terms with losing their mum and partner at such a young age.

"Their grief has been made worse by questions and concerns they have over the care provided to Helen. We’re now investigating whether more could have been done to help her. The family also hope that by sharing Helen’s story, they can make others aware of the signs to look out for when it comes to bowel cancer. Early detection and treatment is key to beating this disease."