LIFESTYLE

Doctors Thought This Woman Had An Eating Disorder, Turns Out She Had Oesophageal Cancer

12/05/2015 16:36 BST | Updated 12/05/2015 16:59 BST

A woman who was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in her teens has revealed that doctors believed she had an eating disorder, because she was too young to suffer from the illness.

Jemma Jones, 23, went through two years of pain and ill health before she was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Jones said that doctors believed she wasn't old enough to have cancer. They believed she could have a number of things including acid reflux, Barrett's oesophagus and an eating disorder.

jemma jones

"I kept trying to eat, but every time the food went down, it was agony. I thought it was a virus and I was coming down with a sore throat," Jones told the The Daily Mail.

It was only after Jones was rushed to hospital one evening because she couldn't breathe, that the severity of her condition came to light.

Surgeons carried out urine and blood tests, followed by an endoscopy which revealed the worst: there was a large cancerous tumour in her oesophagus.

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Oesophageal cancer is an uncommon but serious type of cancer that affects the oesophagus (also known as the gullet).

According to the NHS there are two main types of oesophageal cancer.

The first is squamous cell carcinoma, which forms in the upper part of the oesophagus and occurs when cells on the inside lining of the oesophagus multiply abnormally.

The second is adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus, which forms in the lower part of the oesophagus. This occurs when cells inside the mucous glands that line the oesophagus multiply abnormally.

A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2014 revealed that the UK has the highest rate of adenocarcinoma (AC) cancer in the world.

According to the NHS, smoking and drinking alcohol are two of the biggest risk factors for the cancer. Obesity is also a major risk factor.

Symptoms of the illness include difficulties swallowing, weight loss, throat pain and a persistent cough.

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In May 2012, Jones had surgery on her oesophagus to remove the tumour, alongside 24 lymph nodes and three-quarters of her stomach. The surgeon also removed half of her oesophagus.

Within days of the operation, despite the pain from being cut open, Jones' throat felt better. Much to her delight, she was able to eat again after a few months which felt like "heaven".

Now, Jones is only able to eat small portions because of her small stomach, however she revealed that she is "incredibly lucky" to be alive.