Patrick Tyler was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2013 and is now using his experience to highlight the importance of doing the bowel screening test.
He is part of a network of Bowel Cancer UK volunteers across Scotland marking Bowel Cancer Awareness, by giving talks locally to raise awareness of the benefits of screening.
Latest figures show that people are continuing to answer Detect Cancer Early’s call to join the ‘bowel movement’ with more than 47,500 bowel screening tests returned on average in April – a figure which equates to filling the Edinburgh Playhouse 15 times over.
Bowel cancer is the third most common in Scotland, and the early signs are often hidden. The bowel screening test – offered to everyone in Scotland aged 50 to 74 every two years – remains the most effective way of finding the disease early, when the likelihood of survival is 14 times higher.
Patrick, 66, of Edinburgh, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in September 2013, a diagnosis which led to him having surgery to remove cancerous cells two months later.
Following his recovery, Patrick volunteered for Bowel Cancer UK as he wanted to help get the message across that so much can be done to treat bowel cancer if it’s found early.
Patrick said: “I was tested regularly as I had a family history of bowel cancer. When I was diagnosed following a routine colonoscopy, I had no symptoms at all.
“The whole thing was a bit of a shock but my cancer was caught at a very early stage so it didn’t spread and I didn’t need any chemotherapy as a result.
“Although I went through fairly major surgery, nothing is as bad as you think it is going to be. Things have moved on so much in terms of treatment for bowel cancer and the work surgeons can do with keyhole surgery is quite brilliant.
“There was discomfort of course but I just got on with it, and following my recovery I am back living a normal active life.
“As part of my work for Bowel Cancer UK, I wholeheartedly promote the importance of doing the bowel screening test as there’s great benefit to being diagnosed early.
“Yes, the test is a very personal thing to do, and can be a bit messy, but when you tell people it’s the most effective way of finding the disease at an early stage, there seems little excuse not to do it.”
Emma Anderson, Head of Scotland for Bowel Cancer UK, said: “It’s quite simple, bowel cancer screening saves lives. The screening programme will save over 2,000 lives each year by 2025.
“I would encourage everyone who is over 50 to take the test, and those who are younger to encourage their loved ones to complete it. It could save yours, or your loved ones’, life.”
All men and women aged 50-74 are invited for bowel screening every two years in Scotland.