Early testing can help beat bowel cancer

bowel cancer survivor Jenny Estensen
bowel cancer survivor Jenny Estensen

PEOPLE are being urged to check for tell-tale signs of bowel cancer as part of a hard-hitting health campaign in Hartlepool.

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK with more than 38,000 people diagnosed with it every year.

But simple tests – including one that can be done in the privacy of your own home – can highlight the symptoms at an early stage and help save lives.

As part of the Be Clear on Cancer Campaign, NHS Hartlepool is working in partnership with agencies across the town to increase awareness.

Teesside mother-of-three Jenny Estensen has told how a trip to her doctor saved her life and led her to become a Be Clear on Cancer ambassador for the County Durham and Teesside region.

Jenny, of Marske by the Sea, initially put off telling her GP that she was experiencing new symptoms related to going to the loo but the 61-year-old’s husband Cliff, 65, encouraged her to go when the symptoms persisted.

Her GP did an examination and referred her to a cancer specialist at the James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, where she was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

She told the Mail: “Going to see my GP was the best thing I did as my cancer was caught early.

“I would say to anyone just make the appointment with your doctor. It might put your mind at rest as the symptoms can be other less serious conditions.

“And if it is cancer, the quicker it is caught, the best chance you have of beating it.”

Jenny had an operation to remove part of her bowel, and wore a stoma bag for four months to give her bowel a rest.

The operation was then reversed and she didn’t have to have any chemotherapy as her cancer hadn’t spread.

Now she has encouraged her friends to do the NHS Bowel Screening Programme.

She added: “The test is quick and easy and if you leave it too long then it might be too late. My NHS treatment was amazing from the doctors and nurses to the state-of-the-art equipment.

“I think the Be Clear on Cancer campaign is a great idea to get people talking more about cancer and understanding possible symptoms. For my generation cancer was a taboo, but we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it.”