Bowel cancer home test kit saved my life

A man whose bowel cancer was detected early thanks to a home testing kit has urged others to take part and not to ignore it.

Bill Collins (pictured with consultant Talvinder Gill and specialist colorectal Gill Trainer) from South Hetton was sent a test kit through the post when he turned 60 – and, unlike many others that age who receive it – he completed it and sent it back.

A meeting with a consultant at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust followed, further tests were carried out and cancerous polyps were discovered in his bowel.

Bill had two successful operations (advanced laparoscopic colorectal surgery) to remove them.

He said: “Without this test I would have not have known anything was wrong. I felt absolutely fine, there were no signs at all.

“Most people who receive this test through the post and would probably ignore it. I am urging people to please complete the test, it has saved my life and it might save your life too.

“I’m so grateful to everyone at the trust for the care they have given me, they are fantastic team.”

Colorectal consultant Talvinder Gill said: “It is very important that people take part in the screening programme when they are invited to, just like Bill has.

“If bowel cancer is detected at an early stage, before symptoms appear, it’s easier to treat and there’s a better chance of surviving it.

“Bill had major bowel surgery which was done through the natural scar of umbilicus by single incision laparoscopic technique. He recovered very quickly after operation and stayed in hospital for only a couple of days.”

Mr Gill is a pioneer surgeon of this technique in the UK and offers regular training courses for surgeons.

The home testing kit works by collecting tiny stool samples on a special card. The card is then sealed in a hygienic freepost envelope and sent to the screening laboratory.

It is then checked for traces of blood that may not be visible to the naked eye, but could be an early sign of bowel cancer.

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