An East Lothian woman who credits bowel screening with saving her life is the latest person to join the “bowel movement”.
Carol Black, 52, from Prestonpans, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in June and has now backed the drive to encourage more Scots to return their bowel screening tests, as statistics show people are 14 times more likely to survive bowel cancer if it’s found early.
When a bowel screening test was delivered to Carol’s home for the first time two years ago after she turned 50, she didn’t think twice about taking the test.
She sent it away and the results, from what has now become known as the “bowel movement”, came back negative a few weeks later.
But it was a different story when she took her most recent bowel screening test in May this year, which showed traces of blood in her sample.
She was asked to repeat the test, which showed the same result and was invited for a colonoscopy, where a tumour was detected.
Carol said: “I remember asking the doctor after the colonoscopy to be honest with me and to tell me if he thought there was anything I should be worried about. He was so kind and told me it was a tumour and that he was sure they’d caught it early.
“Three weeks later after a scan the results showed that the cancer hadn’t spread and I was fit for an operation to remove the tumour.
“Surgery was a success – I didn’t need any chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which was a huge relief. If I had started googling symptoms I would have terrified myself so I’m glad I took my doctor’s advice. I now encourage everyone I know to take part in screening, even if they feel well, as it can often spot hidden symptoms.
“I feel reassured that I have a couple of friends who now take the test, who before this happened to me would just put it in the bin when it arrived in the post. If anything it gives you peace of mind that everything is okay.”
The bowel test remains the most effective way to detect the cancer early as the signs are often hidden, experts say.
More than half a million people in Scotland do their bowel screening test every year. The test is sent through the post and offered to those aged 50-74 every two years.
Although more people are returning their tests than ever before, the Scottish Government’s Detect Cancer Early campaign is targeting those who put it off and letting them know that diagnosing the cancer earlier can save your life.
Emma Anderson, head of Scotland, Bowel Cancer UK, said: “Bowel cancer is very treatable, and even curable, if diagnosed at an early stage, so it is very important to do your test and not delay when it comes through your letterbox.”
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland. Every year around 4000 people are diagnosed with the disease.