‘A free NHS home screening kit saved my life’

Steve Hollington, 58, was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer last year despite having no symptoms

Ashley Pemberton
Thursday 20 April 2023 11:33 BST
(NHS England / SWNS)

A ‘fit and healthy’ father says taking a bowel cancer screening test that dropped on his doorstep was like a “winning lottery ticket” after it saved his life.

Steve Hollington, 58, was diagnosed with stage three cancer last year despite having no symptoms.

The cruise ship singer had completed a bowel screening known as the faecal immunochemical test, which can be done at home and then sent off.

He’s now encouraging others to be take the test, which detects small amounts of blood in poo that would not be visible.

Father-of-two Steve, of Warrington, Cheshire, said: “It’s a no-brainer for me.

“I had no symptoms, I would have carried on not knowing had I have not taken the test, and leaving it so long would have almost certainly been too late to receive the treatment I have.

“Taking the bowel screening kit has saved my life, and potentially given me 20 more years to live it.”

Shortly after returning the completed kit, the NHS contacted Steve to say further investigation was required.

After a colonoscopy, two tumours were found in his bowel, which Steve says ‘completely took me by surprise as I didn’t have a single symptom’.

Steve underwent surgery on his bowel in December, just weeks after his diagnosis, and was fitted with a stoma post-surgery to allow his bowel to heal.

He had 18 lymph nodes removed and is halfway through a three-month course of chemotherapy.

Steve added: “There were some really worrying and emotional times, but I’ve tried to remain positive.

(NHS England / SWNS)

“I feel like I’m over the worst parts of it, the surgery has removed the tumours, the chemotherapy will hopefully mop up any of the cancerous cells and after the course has finished, hopefully I will be able to have a stoma reversal.”

Everyone aged 60 to 74 years who is registered with a GP and lives in England is automatically sent an NHS bowel cancer screening kit every 2 years.

But the programme is also being expanded by the NHS to include people under 60.

Around 70 per cent of people return their completed test kits, which experts fear means many may miss a diagnosis.

Dr Michael Gregory, medical director for NHS England North West, urged people to complete the test and return it as soon as they receive it.

He said: “Catching bowel cancer before it spreads can reduce the risk of dying and make treatment so much more manageable.

“The FIT kit is a vital part of our screening programme, so I’d urge anyone who has received a kit but has yet to return it to not put it off.”

Steve, who performs as an Elton John tribute act, has reworked the star’s classic Your Song to help raise awareness of bowel cancer screening.

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