LETTER: Screening test saves lives

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As April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, I felt that I needed to tell you how lucky I feel that I took part in the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme.

I was speedily operated on and all the tumour was removed. This prompt action caught my tumour at an early enough stage for it to be removed before it had a chance to spread further.

Without the screening programme I would not have known about my cancer and the prognosis may well have been considerably less positive. It did, however, leave me permanently with a colostomy and a stoma bag.

Five years down the line I sometimes think that the stoma is an inconvenience –but it’s so much better than the alternative! My colostomy was a life saver – a little bag that saved a husband, father, grandfather and friend and all down to the success of the screening process.

The screening is offered every two years to people aged between 60 and 74. You provide a sample in the privacy of your own home and send it off for testing using a supplied, pre-paid envelope.

The test looks for blood in your poo that can’t normally be seen. The programme aims to detect bowel cancer early.

One year survival rates for positive screening diagnoses are 97 per cent, as opposed to just 49 per cent for those diagnosed as an emergency.

I would strongly urge everyone who receives an invitation from the screening programme to do it immediately, the results will either put your mind at rest or enable prompt action to be taken. My family and I are so grateful that this scheme enabled me to have my tumour found and removed and to enable me look forward to seeing my grandchildren grow up. Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer with over 16,000 people dying annually of a disease that is preventable, treatable and curable. But it’s not all doom and gloom; nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer but this drops significantly as the disease develops.

Early diagnosis really does save lives and the best way to achieve an early diagnosis is through screening.

Early diagnosis really does save lives. It saved mine!

For more information on screening call the bowel screening helpline on 0800 707 6060.

Charles Cushing

Feversham Close, Shoreham

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