A WARRINGTON dad who was diagnosed with bowel cancer says a ‘poo on a stick’ test saved his life.

Just after his 58th birthday in August 2022, Steve Hollington was sent a bowel screening box test.

He didn’t know what it was at first and had no symptoms, so he left it on the side for a few weeks.

Steve then decided to do the test and within just a week, he received a letter to say that further investigation was required.

After a colonoscopy, two tumours were found in his bowel. Following an MRI and a CT scan, he was told he had bowel cancer.

Steve said the diagnosis ‘completely took him by surprise’ as he had no symptoms before it.

In a video shared by NHS North West, Steve said: “I didn’t do the test straight away.

“I mean in hindsight, I wish I had done everything straight away.”

Within weeks of diagnosis, Steve underwent surgery on his bowel and was fitted with a stoma post-surgery to allow his bowel to heal.

Eighteen lymph nodes were also removed and he went through a three-month course of chemotherapy.

Steve spoke about the fear of knowing you have cancer can be worrying and overwhelming, but he said that completing the home testing kit is a ‘no-brainer’.

He said: “That test pack, the bowel screening test pack, the poo on a stick that came through, had I not had that through the door, that was like a winning lottery ticket for me because if I hadn’t had it then I probably wouldn’t be here in two years time.

“That has saved my life, so it is an absolute no-brainer.”

It comes as thousands more people in the region will be sent a home-testing kit to help detect signs of bowel cancer as the NHS expands its lifesaving bowel screening programme to people aged 54 in England.

Those aged 54 and over will now automatically receive a home-testing kit every two years by post when they become eligible.

The kit, known as the faecal immunochemical test (FIT), checks for blood in a small stool sample, which can be a sign of bowel cancer.

The testing kit is already made available through the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme to everyone aged 56 to 74.

The phased expansion to people aged 54 years means an additional 830,000 people in England will now be eligible for the screening test.

FIT kits are done at home by putting a poo sample in a small tube and returning it by post to the NHS for testing.

Those newly eligible will receive an invitation letter and will be sent their test with full instructions and prepaid return packaging.

Results are sent back to participants, along with information about further tests, if needed.

Through regular screening, the programme aims to diagnose bowel cancers at an earlier stage, increasing the chances of successful treatment and survival.

Around two out of 100 people who use the kit will require further testing. People aged 75 and over can request a kit by phoning the NHS bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

Due to the increased uptake with the FIT kit, more cancers are now being detected than when the previous test was used.

People can call the free bowel cancer screening helpline for advice on 0800 707 60 60. Information on bowel cancer and the screening programme can be found on the NHS.UK website (www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer-screening/).

If you notice any symptoms of bowel cancer, contact your GP and don’t wait for your screening test. The type of changes to look out for are changes in your usual bowel habits for 3 weeks or more:

1.            Tummy discomfort

2.            Blood in poo

3.            Diarrhoea or constipation for no obvious reason

4.            A feeling of not having emptied your bowels after going to the toilet

5.            Pain in your stomach or bottom

6.            Your poo is loose, pale or looks greasy