Altham gran Denise says that free bowel cancer test kit can be a lifesaver

HEALTHY SMILE Denise had successful keyhole surgery

HEALTHY SMILE Denise had successful keyhole surgery

First published in Altham Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

AN ALTHAM gran has said her recovery from bowel cancer discovered after she took a free test has been ‘miraculous’.

Denise Ashton, 64, managed to get potentially life-saving early treatment after a simple kit highlighted concerns.

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the UK.

The earlier the disease is treated the better the potential outcome for patients, which is why since April 2008 a test kit has been routinely sent out to thousands of people aged 60 to 74 across Lancashire, to take in the privacy of their own home.

People can also request a kit if they have never had one before.

The programme uses the faecal occult blood test, which looks for hidden traces of blood in stools.

Denise, who has two sons and one granddaughter, said her husband Michael passed the test in April 2009, but when she took it in October, she failed.

She said: “I tell everyone now not to ignore the test kit when it comes as it can be a lifesaver.”

Doctors told Denise they would like to carry out further investigations and after a screening test at Clitheroe Hospital she was told she needed a colonoscopy, an examination by camera of the colon and bowel.

The procedure at Burnley General Hospital revealed a 5cm cancerous growth in her sigmoid colon.

Despite the ‘bombshell’, she said she was reassured by her surgeon and a week before Christmas she underwent successful keyhole surgery.

Denise said: “I was told I needed no further treatments, no chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

“This thing could have just kept growing without any symptoms for another 12 months, and by then it could have gone through the bowel wall into other parts of my body.

So do I feel it was miraculous? Yes I do.

We are very lucky that we get offered tests like this and I would urge people not to bury their heads in the sand.”

By April 8 this year 26,780 test kits had been sent out in Lancashire with 277 abnormal samples returned for follow-up checks.

The test does not diagnose bowel cancer but indicates whether further investigations are needed.

About 98 in 100 people receive a normal result.

A positive result can occur for reasons aside from bowel cancer, such as haemorrhoids, diet and medications.

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