Patient beats cancer thanks to screening test
Retired Lynne Stretton from Stafford urges people to attend bowel cancer screening appointments after being diagnosed with Bowel Cancer in 2020. 65 year-old Lynne received a bowel cancer screening test through the post via the screening programme but had no symptoms of bowel cancer.
Bowel cancer affects around 41,000 people in the UK every year and is the second most common cause of cancer death, around 9 in 100 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Lynne said: “I had no indication that I had a tumour growing in my bowel, as far as I was concerned I was well and therefore wouldn't have gone to see my GP. Not wanting to sound too dramatic but my scenario could have been very different without screening; this was actually the third kit I received, first one at of 60, again at 62 and then one at 64 in September 2020.
“I sent the kit back and didn’t give it a second thought as I was feeling well with no changes to my weight or bowel habits. I received an appointment letter from the screening team with an appointment to discuss the results, after a colonoscopy I was told that they had found a tumour which looked malignant and that they had taken biopsies and tattooed the tumour. I left the hospital and sat in the car park for ages, not knowing how to feel.
“The word cancer conjures up all sorts of awful thoughts and imaginings, life was going on as normal around you and although you know it is happening to you it just doesn't seem real, you almost disassociate yourself from it. One of the screening team sat me and my husband down and confirmed that it was cancer and it was at an early stage, which was so much better than I'd expected.
“From beginning to end I had first class support, the screening nurse was so kind, explained what the process would be, very quickly arranged my appointments and supported us both. Although my outcome has been amazing thanks to the screening programme and the wonderful NHS please as soon as you are invited for screening take the offer up, it takes a couple of minutes and that couple of minutes could save your life. Surely it's got to be worth it.”
Each year around 16,000 people die from bowel cancer. The work that the UHNM screening team are carrying out is aimed at eventually improving the diagnosis and eventual prognosis for patients with bowel cancer.
Carol Beeston, Lead Bowel Cancer Nurse, said: “The team have been around since 2008 and before the pandemic we had increased our activities to improve awareness in the community, but due to the pandemic we are concerned that the screening kits are not being returned and that potential cancer diagnosis could be missed.
“Bowel cancer screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage when treatment is more likely to be effective. It’s important that we encourage our patients to engage with the bowel cancer screening programme by improving awareness and knowledge about signs and symptoms and how to access services.”
Everyone aged 60 to 74 who is registered with a GP and lives in England is automatically sent a bowel cancer screening kit every two years. Make sure your GP has your correct address so your kit is posted to the right place.
If you're 75 or over, you can ask for a kit every two years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60. If you're worried about a family history of bowel cancer or have any symptoms, speak to a GP for advice.