On the tenth anniversary of the introduction of bowel screening in England, a Shoreham bowel cancer survivor is urging fellow residents to complete the test he says saved his life.
As part of the screening programme test kits are posted automatically to all UK residents registered with a GP once they reach the age of 60.
In December 2013, Peter Jones, 74, of Elizabeth Road, had a ‘gut feeling’ that something was not quite right. He had minor pains in tummy and appendix area, loose and multiple poos, tiredness, dozing off; all symptoms he remembered reading about previously. His screening kit arrived in the post that same month and he completed and sent it off immediately. He was given a colonoscopy within three weeks which confirmed that he had bowel cancer.
Peter then underwent keyhole surgery four weeks after that, where not only his tumour but also his appendix was removed. He was very relieved to find that he didn’t require a stoma and that he was and still is clear of cancer.
He said: “I was so amazed how quick everything happened, I even told my surgeon – ‘I feel I am being fast tracked’. The whole journey at the Royal Sussex County Hospital was superb. I cannot praise them all enough.”
Sadly, Peter had previously lost his wife to lung cancer in January 2011.
He was very fit and active before diagnosis and has started to resume activities now, including line dancing.
He is keen to spread the word about how you should both complete screening if offered and also to deal with things as soon as you experience symptoms.
He said: “I knew something wasn’t right, so when the screening test came through the door I completed it but I never thought it would be cancer. I’m so grateful that the screening programme caught it as early as it did.
“The test couldn’t be more quick and simple to do,” he added. “While it may sound a bit embarrassing or unpleasant, it’s so important to put aside a few minutes to do the test even if you feel fit and healthy, because the test can detect cancer at an early stage before any symptoms are visible. Completing and returning your kit as quickly as possible is crucial as any delay could be life-threatening.”
Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer but if diagnosed early 90 per cent of cases can be successfully treated, as opposed to less than 10 per cent of cases diagnosed at a later stage. See www.beatingbowelcancer.org
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