Thousands of Brits missing out on life saving cancer tests as TV stars back campaign

BRITONS are being urged to take up the offer of life-saving NHS bowel cancer tests by TV presenters Alan Titchmarsh and Tommy Walsh.

In the spirit of Sun writer Dame Deborah James, who campaigned for patients to “check your poo” and passed from the disease last summer, the pair are urging Brits to get checked.

GettyBritons are being urged to take up the offer of life-saving NHS bowel cancer tests by TV presenters Alan Titchmarsh (pictured) and Tommy Walsh[/caption]

Tommy Walsh (pictured) — who battled throat cancer last year — says: “As a cancer survivor myself, I know how important diagnosing cancer early is”Getty

Around 30 per cent of adults who receive the tests do not return them, the health service said.

Tommy — who battled throat cancer last year — said: “As a cancer survivor myself, I know how important diagnosing cancer early is. 

“But I didn’t know that detecting bowel cancer at the earliest stage makes you up to nine times more likely to be successfully treated.

“So remember, if you are sent an NHS bowel cancer screening test, do it as soon as it arrives in the post. Put it by the loo, and don’t put it off.”

Former Gardeners’ World favourite Alan, 73, added: “I really urge everyone to do it — you owe it to your family, and you owe it to yourself.”

Around 42,900 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK, making it the fourth most common form of the disease.

It is Britain’s second most deadly cancer but can be cured if it’s caught early enough. 

Home screening tests looking for tiny amounts of blood are sent out to everyone every two years after they turn 50.

The screening age was lowered to people in their 50s in 2021 thanks to The Sun’s No Time 2 Lose campaign, spearheaded by Dame Deborah.

NHS England national cancer director Dame Cally Palmer, said: “The entire country fell in love with the passionate campaigning of Dame Deborah James last year and her tireless work to bring bowel cancer to the forefront of health conversation.

“Her legacy continues on through these famous faces who are just as passionate as she is “We are already seeing incredible responses to our cancer awareness campaigns with record treatments and referrals.

“So do not delay in returning your kit as your next poo could save your life.”

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

The 3 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.

Source: The NHS

Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive at Bowel Cancer UK, said: “Currently fewer than 40 per cent of people are diagnosed with bowel cancer at the earlier stages when it’s easier to treat. 

“Screening is one of the best ways to detect the disease early, so it’s brilliant to see celebrities like Alan and Tommy getting on board helping to raise awareness and encouraging others to have open conversations about bowel cancer.”

Health secretary Steve Barclay said: “The NHS’ first national campaign on bowel cancer screening means more people will be encouraged to use the home testing kit when they receive it.

“Screening makes it more likely that bowel cancer will be successfully detected and treated.”