A man who was diagnosed with bowel cancer after taking part in a screening programme is urging others to do the same.
Neil Hopkinson, 60, from Kettering, was diagnosed after being screened for bowel cancer.
He is now supporting Bowel Cancer UK to encourage people to take part in the screening programme as part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month during April.
More than 44 people die from bowel cancer every day in the UK and it is the nation’s second biggest cancer killer.
But it is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.
The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme can detect bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms when it is easier to treat.
Anyone registered with a GP and aged 60 to 74 will receive a test in the post every two years.
It is a simple test which can be carried out at home and comes with step-by-step instructions.
The test looks for hidden blood in your stools, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer.
Neil, who was diagnosed with cancer aged 60, said: “I want to live to 100, I want to see my seven grandchildren grow up and so when the bowel cancer screening test came through a few days before my 60th birthday, there was little hesitation to take the test.
“I didn’t have any symptoms and so I was surprised that I had to do the test three times as they found a small sample of blood in my faeces.
“My wife and I were a little worried when I was told that I needed to go to Kettering General Hospital for further investigations but we tried our best to put a positive spin on it and saw the whole experience as an adventure.
“The nurse put me at ease straight away and explained the colonoscopy procedure which I had, followed by a CT scan.
“Unfortunately it did reveal two polyps, one was a quite large, and a very small tumour was found.
“I was diagnosed with stage 1 bowel cancer.
“It was a shock but my wife has been my rock throughout.
“I’m so pleased I did the screening test as if I had ignored the test it could’ve been so much worse.
“My surgery revealed that the cancer hadn’t spread and the tumour was contained.
“They removed it and thankfully I didn’t have to have chemotherapy.
“This is exactly why I took the test to pick up any signs of cancer early.
“I will just now be monitored closely.
“I can’t thank the nurses and surgeon at Kettering General Hospital enough – they were brilliant. “My diagnosis convinced my friends to take the test who were previously ignoring it, and sadly my friend’s dad ignored his symptoms of bowel cancer and by the time he went to his GP, it was simply too late.
“Don’t let that happen to you, take the test when it comes through your letter box for free.”
Deborah Alsina, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said: “One in 14 men and one in 19 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime.
“Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive, however this drops significantly as the disease develops.
“If you are over 60, take the test when you receive it in the post.
“If you are younger, tell the people over 60 in your life to complete it.”
As part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, Bowel Cancer UK is looking for work places and community groups to host a talk about screening in April.
The 30-minute talk is delivered by a trained health promotion volunteer.
Anyone interested in hosting a talk can go to bowelcanceruk.org.uk/bookatalk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.