A GRANDAD is urging people to take a test for bowel cancer that saved his life, as cases rise.
Bowel cancer has increased in men in the North East by 30 per cent over the last 35 years, while women have seen a six per cent rise.
About 1,100 men and 780 women have been diagnosed, Cancer Research UK has revealed.
Harry Pattinson, 67, of Red House, Sunderland, was diagnosed last year after taking a free, routine check offered by the NHS to those aged 60 to 74.
The father-of-two and grandfather-of-four said he was shocked to discover he had cancer.
“I had no idea anything was wrong,” he said.
“You get to a certain age and are sent the tests through the post by the NHS.
“People are put off because you have to give a stool, but they shouldn’t be because it can spot anything that’s wrong.”
Harry, who owns Tattoo You, in King Street, South Shields, and is dad to Lisa, 41, and Lee, 44, was admitted to Sunderland Royal Hospital for an operation to remove part of the bowel with the cancerous polyps.
“It all happened very quickly,” he said. “I was given scans to see if it had spread – thankfully, it hadn’t – and had the operation within weeks.
“If you catch bowel cancer quickly, your chances of surviving are good, but if you don’t, it spreads into your stomach. If I hadn’t done it, I would not be here. That test saved my life.”
The largest rise in those with the disease is in people in their 60s and 70s, with more than 23,000 diagnosed every year.
The new figures were published alongside the launch of the Bobby Moore Fund awareness campaign – Make Bobby Proud – during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.
Harry, who recovered from the disease last year, said he and his wife still take the test sent out by post twice a year.
“People shouldn’t just look at this test and think it is dirty – do it for your health,” he said.
Fore more information, visit www.cancerresearchuk.org.