A REDRUTH man said his life has been saved by a piece of “junk mail” that revealed he had bowel cancer.
Les Rowe, 71, took a home cancer screening test that had been sent by post.
But he admits it is easy to overlook the important test and consider it junk mail.
After filling out the test and providing a stool sample by return post, Mr Rowe was shocked to learn he had bowel cancer.
“They called me up to [Royal Cornwall Hospital at] Treliske and I had to go under the knife for a major operation,” he said.
“It was quite worrying but what is more worrying is if that letter had just been thrown in the bin and I had not taken it. It saved my life.”
Mr Rowe, a former Tesco employee at Pool, said he had been feeling fine and never would have guessed he had cancer.
Although his mother was diagnosed with cancer, Mr Rowe had performed a similar test two years ago but there was no trace of the condition.
He was bedridden in hospital for five days and felt very weak afterwards but now says he is on the mend.
“After having a colonoscopy then meeting with a consultant, Dr Lidder, I went in for the operation.
“I would just like to thank everyone on Poldark Ward. The team undoubtedly saved my life. A thanks to all the support staff at Truro too.”
Mr Rowe advised anyone second guessing whether to take a through-the-post test to fill it in and send it back.
Bowel cancer screening tests began in 2006.
Men and women aged 60 to 69 registered with a GP will automatically be sent an invitation for screening through the post.
It was recently extended to those aged between 70 and 75.
Screening consists of a home testing kit, called an FOBt (faecal occult blood test) kit. The kit arrives through the post when screening is due. The kit is used to collect tiny stool samples on a special card.
The card is then sealed in a special, hygienic freepost envelope and sent to a laboratory where it will be checked for traces of blood, which may indicate a problem.