A Lancashire man has issued a warning to the public after his terrifying bowel cancer diagnosis.

Paul Binks, from Coupe Green near Hoghton, is urging the public to see their GP if they have any symptoms, as early diagnosis could save their life.

Paul, 54, was diagnosed with bowel cancer last summer after spotting some blood in his stool.

He said: “I noticed a bit of blood in my poo in June 2021 but just completely ignored it because it stopped.

“However, it happened again a month later and I decided to phone the doctor.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Paul Binks with his friend Helen JamesPaul Binks with his friend Helen James

It took another month for the results to come back and Paul was devastated to find out it was cancer.

He said: “It was a horrible time. I was having nightmares and thinking ‘do I write a will?’.

“I have loads of canoes and bikes and I was wondering whether to sell them on eBay or give them straight to my son.

“It was a really negative and horrible time.”

Thankfully, the cancer had not spread and doctors were able to surgically remove the tumour - he will find out if he has the all clear later this year.

Now, he is encouraging anyone with symptoms to get themselves checked.

“When the doctors said it'd not spread and we had caught it early, all of those worries started to evaporate,” said Paul.

“I feel incredibly lucky that I caught it early but I am also quite happy to tell people to get themselves checked out – don’t ignore your symptoms.

“It could have been a different story for me if I didn’t go to the doctors when I did.

“Blood in my faeces was my only symptom and there wasn’t a lot of blood either.

“Don’t ignore any symptoms and if there’s something that doesn’t seem quite right then see your GP.

“It might not be bowel cancer, and I hope it isn’t, but it’s better to get it checked out.”

Paul is now learning to live with his colostomy bag which is used to collect faeces while the bowel heals following an operation.

In some cases this is reversible and you might not have to live with the bag forever.

He said: “To begin with I had quite a negative experience in terms of my body image with the bag, as when you first have it your system isn’t used to it.

“I am more used to it now but going into the office and being around people and going out for food can be a challenge.

“I was always active and I wanted to get back on my bike and go swimming.

“Now I am quite happy to go to a crowded pool with the support belt on and it wouldn’t bother me."

He is even taking part in the organisation’s fundraising challenge Swim15.

He said: “Bowel Cancer UK really helped me to build my confidence as they advertised a peer group with other people who have the bags.

“We got online and chatted a bit and gained confidence from them.

“I thought it would be nice to take part in a challenge and give back to Bowel Cancer UK."

Throughout August people are encouraged to take part in a swimming activity related to the number 15.

You can swim 15km or miles, 15 laps, swim every day for 15 days, or aim for a total of 15 hours in the pool.

Every 15 minutes someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK – that's nearly 43,000 people every year.

Director of fundraising at Bowel Cancer UK, Luke Squires, said: "Whether it's in open water or a pool, grab your goggles and get sponsored this August.

“Everyone taking part will be working together across the UK to raise money to help our vital services and lifesaving research."

Symptoms of bowel cancer according to the NHS

Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK. Most people diagnosed with it are over the age of 60.

The three main symptoms of bowel cancer are:

  • persistent blood in your poo – that happens for no obvious reason or is associated with a change in bowel habit
  • a persistent change in your bowel habit – which is usually having to poo more and your poo may also become more runny
  • persistent lower abdominal (tummy) pain, bloating or discomfort – that's always caused by eating and may be associated with loss of appetite or significant unintentional weight loss

Most people with these symptoms do not have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms. For example:

  • blood in the poo when associated with pain or soreness is more often caused by piles (haemorrhoids)
  • a change in bowel habit or abdominal pain is usually caused by something you've eaten
  • a change in bowel habit to going less often, with harder poo, is not usually caused by any serious condition – it may be worth trying laxatives before seeing a GP

These symptoms should be taken more seriously as you get older and when they persist despite simple treatments.