Man with no bowel cancer symptoms credits home testing kit with saving his life

Steve Hollington was diagnosed with bowel cancer
Steve Hollington was diagnosed with bowel cancer after taking an at-home test kit. (SWNS)

A man has credited a bowel cancer screening test that dropped on his doorstep with saving his life after he was diagnosed with the disease without having prior symptoms.

Steve Hollington, 58, completed a bowel screening known as the faecal immunochemical test, which can be done at home and sent off for testing at a laboratory.

He was shocked to discover he was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer, but says the home testing kit was like a “winning lottery ticket” as it’s “potentially given me 20 more years to live”.

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“I had no symptoms, I would have carried on not knowing had I not taken the test, and leaving it so long would have almost certainly been too late to receive the treatment I have,” Hollington explains.

“Taking the bowel screening kit has saved my life, and potentially given me 20 more years to live it.”

According to the NHS, bowel cancer symptoms can include stomach pain, bloating, changes in your poo, needing to poo more or less often than usual, blood in your poo, and rectal bleeding.

Shortly after returning the completed kit, the NHS contacted Steve to say further investigation was required.

After a colonoscopy in hospital, two tumours were found in his bowel, which Steve says “completely took me by surprise as I didn’t have a single symptom”.

Steve Hollington on holiday. (Getty Images)
Steve Hollington experienced no symptoms before being diagnosed with bowel cancer. (Getty Images)

Steve underwent surgery on his bowel in December, just weeks after his diagnosis, and was fitted with a stoma post-surgery to allow his bowel to heal.

He had 18 lymph nodes removed and is halfway through a three-month course of chemotherapy.

“There were some really worrying and emotional times, but I’ve tried to remain positive,” he adds.

“I feel like I’m over the worst parts of it, the surgery has removed the tumours, the chemotherapy will hopefully mop up any of the cancerous cells and after the course has finished, hopefully, I will be able to have a stoma reversal.”

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Woman having painful stomachache.
Stomach pain can be a sign of bowel cancer. (Getty Images)

Everyone aged 60 to 74 years who is registered with a GP and lives in England is automatically sent an NHS bowel cancer screening kit every two years but the programme is also being expanded by the NHS to include people under 60.

Around 70% of people return their completed test kits, which experts fear means many may miss a diagnosis.

Dr Michael Gregory, medical director for NHS England North West, urged people to complete the test and return it as soon as possible.

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He said: “Catching bowel cancer before it spreads can reduce the risk of dying and make treatment so much more manageable.

“The FIT kit is a vital part of our screening programme, so I’d urge anyone who has received a kit but has yet to return it to not put it off.”

Additional reporting by SWNS.

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