Stockport grandmother says bowel cancer home screening test saved her life

Video report by Granada Reports correspondent Tim Scott

A healthy 62 year old grandmother from Stockport is urging people to return their home bowel cancer testing kit, saying the early detection saved her life.

Barbara Bray was diagnosed with stage 2 bowel cancer in July 2021, after completing the screening test she received in the post.

A few days after returning the test, she received a follow-up letter saying it needed further investigation and referred her for a colonoscopy, CT scan, and consultation at The Christie Hospital in Manchester.

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Barbara needed keyhole surgery to remove a polyp, further testing showed that the polyp was cancerous, and she needed chemotherapy.

Barbara finished her treatment in March 2022 and is now living life cancer free.

She says: “I am so glad that I completed the bowel cancer screening test as soon as I received it in the post, despite showing no symptoms at all."

Barbara leads a busy life with her husband, children and four grandchildren. She was regularly running and keeping fit when she completed the test.

She said: "When I was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer bowel cancer, I was in utter disbelief. I exercised regularly, ate well, and did everything I could to keep healthy.

"Without the test, I may have been walking around with cancer for a lot longer and could have had a very different journey, ultimately, it saved my life.” 

Figures show that almost a third of people who were sent an NHS bowel cancer screening test in England last year did not return them.

Now a new national campaign has been launched to urge those eligible to return their potentially lifesaving bowel cancer screening home tests.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and detecting the disease at the earliest stage makes you up to 9 times more likely to be successfully treated.

The at-home test detects signs of cancer before you notice anything wrong and can be done in the privacy of your own bathroom using the step-by-step instructions on the box.

Anyone aged 60 to 74, who lives in England and is registered with a GP practice will be sent a test in the post automatically, every two years.

As part of the launch, NHS will be releasing a new film discussing the importance of bowel cancer screening. It shows TV presenters Tommy Walsh and Alan Titchmarsh answering questions on how the NHS bowel cancer screening programme in England works.

The video is part of the NHS’s “Help Us Help You” campaign, which tackles the fears surrounding a cancer diagnosis, and aims to get more men and women diagnosed at the earliest stage where bowel cancer survival rates are nine times higher.

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