'I would have been dead in three months': Couple praise cancer screenings for saving their lives

  • ITV Central reporter Ravneet Nandra spoke to Mick and Kath about their new lease of life after both being diagnosed with cancer within four months of each other

A couple from Stoke-on-Trent are urging people to take up the offer of cancer screening services after they were both diagnosed within four months of each other. 

Michael and Kathleen Dean from Chell were diagnosed with bowel and lung cancer after being invited to cancer screenings by the University Hospitals of North Midlands, despite having no symptoms.

Michael, a former West Midlands Ambulance Service driver, received his invite for bowel screening in August 2021.

After sending the kit back to be tested, he was promptly invited to attend a further test.

That revealed a two and a half centimetre tumour in his bowel.

Mick and Kath made sure to document their entire journey together.

He said: "I thought no more about it. I'd got no symptoms. I was well. I was working. They did a scan, put me straight into surgery."

Michael had several rounds of chemotherapy, as well as surgery to remove the tumour..

But it was while he was having surgery that Kathleen was invited to a lung health check appointment because of her smoking history.

The former University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) health care assistant thought nothing of it.

But after a CT scan, she was told she needed to have surgery quickly to remove the three types of cancers doctors found.

Mick shaved his hair off in solidarity to his wife, Kath, who was told her hair would fall out as a side effect to the chemotherapy.

She said: "If I hadn't have gone, I would have been dead in three months."

While they were both having chemotherapy, Kath decided to shave her hair off as she was told her hair would naturally fall out as a side effect of the medicine.

In an act of support, Mick joined her.

Mr and Mrs Dean have now been given the all-clear and are going through remission together.

Following their own experiences, they're urging everyone who's eligible for cancer screening to take up the offer in the hope of treating any possible conditions before it's too late.

What is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer.

Nearly 43,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK - that's one every 15 minutes.

Around 268,000 people living in the UK today have been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

It is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early; the charity Bowel Cancer UK says nearly everyone survives bowel cancer if diagnosed at the earliest stage, however this drops significantly as the disease develops, so early diagnosis is key.  

What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer; more than 43,000 people are diagnosed with the condition every year in the UK.

It mainly affects older people, and is rare in people younger than 40 - more than four out of 10 people diagnosed with lung cancer are over 75.

Although people who have never smoked can develop lung cancer, smoking is the most common cause, accounting for more than 70 out of 100 cases. This is because smoking involves regularly inhaling a number of different toxic substances.

Two doctors from the Royal Stoke University Hospital are making it their mission to increase screening in both types of cancers.

Dr Sandip Sen, Screening Centre Director for the Bowel Cancer Screen Services North Staffordshire said: "Over a 100 kits that are sent back, only two, approximately, will be positive, and only those two will need go on to have further investigations, but it is very important to break these barriers so we can get more people involved in the bowel cancer screening programme."

Dr Imran Hussain, Clinical Director for the Staffordshire Lung Health Checks Programme said: "When we find people through screening, four out of five people, if we do find a cancer, it's at an early stage where something can be done about it.

"Now, if you go to your GP when you have symptoms, it's only going to be about one in five people who can go on to have surgery and have the cancer removed so it makes a big difference in terms of what we're able to do and actually look at curing people as well."

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