A CANCER survivor is warning Wearsiders not to ignore a potentially life-saving home testing kit.
Retired John Finnon was sent a bowel screening test kit in the post, something which all over 60s in the North East are sent every two years by the NHS.
However, only half of those sent the kit use them.
Despite showing no symptoms, John was diagnosed with bowel cancer in March after sending a stool sample away to be tested.
Doctors said John needed a colonoscopy and then a biopsy, which revealed that he had bowel cancer.
John, of Victor Street, Roker, was operated on in early April and is now “right as rain” after the procedure.
The 66-year-old said: “It’s like winning the Lottery being told you are fine.
“When I first got the test, I couldn’t really visualise myself doing it. But now I’m very glad I did.”
The test involves using a special kit to collect small samples of bowel movements, wiping the samples on a special card and then sending them in a hygienically sealed, prepaid envelope to a laboratory for testing.
Grandad-of-one John, who used to work as a security guard in the Bridges, is now calling on those who have had a screening kit delivered not to ignore it.
“Someone I used to work with, her husband received a test and he was a bit unsure,” said John, who is dad to Lisa, Andrew and Peter.
“I told her ‘get him to do it’. I would encourage anybody to do it.”
John also said he wanted to praise neighbour Dorothy Dunlop for her support in recent months.
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, with more than 38,000 people diagnosed with the illness each year.
NHS Primary Care Trust bosses on Wearside are encouraging over-60s to follow John’s lead.
Those in the age group are being sent invitations to take the test.
Dr Nonnie Crawford, Sunderland’s director of public health and Cancer Network director, said: “Some people have told us they feel a bit embarrassed about the test because it involves poo, but screening has proved to be a life-saver, and we would like to see as many over-60s as possible using the kits.
“Getting more people to use the test would lead to more early detection of bowel cancer.
“People may well have no symptoms at all in the early stages, so screening may give the first indication that something is wrong.
“And collecting the samples only takes a few minutes.”