A WORTHING pensioner has urged others to be screened for bowel cancer after suffering the illness himself.
Allen Pizer, 70, received a bowel cancer screening test through the post in March.
“Looking back now, that test saved my life,” said Allen, of St Botolph’s Road.
At first, the grandfather-of-two ignored the test, but then changed his mind and decided to get it done.
Allen said: “I was being a typical man, thinking this isn’t for me. But then I thought, it’s not going to cost me anything, and I had it in my hand so I might as well take the test.”
After sending the test back, Allen received notification his result was inconclusive.
“I did a second test and was then contacted to say I needed to see a specialist nurse at Worthing Hospital.
“After several different tests, such as a colonoscopy and sigmoid endoscopy, I was told there was a growth, which turned out to be cancerous.”
However, before Allen could have an operation to remove the malignant mass in his bowel, he was told he was too overweight for surgery.
He said: “I was very worried – I didn’t know if I could lose the weight, but I knew I had to so my daughter Victoria made sure I signed up to David Lloyd.”
Allen went to the gym five times a week, for six weeks, to exercise with a personal trainer. He managed to improve his fitness by 35 per cent – the level required for his operation to go ahead.
He said: “When I went back to the hospital I think they were very excited I had managed to lose the weight. They were able to remove all the cancer. It was obviously all worth it – without the screening test, and then the weight loss, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Allen had part of his bowel removed, leaving him with a permanent colostomy bag.
“I would urge anyone who is sent a bowel cancer test to do it – don’t hesitate. I had no symptoms, so I would never have known. Also, it’s really highlighted the importance of keeping fit and healthy.”
Dan Jackson, Allen’s personal trainer, said: “Allen struggled to get into exercise to begin with, but he was determined and it’s saved his life. You’re never too old to lead a healthy lifestyle.”
Mr Mirza Baig, consultant general and colorectal surgeon at Worthing Hospital, said: “Large international trials have shown that effective screening for bowel cancer significantly reduces mortality from colorectal cancer.
“The bowel cancer screening programme means that we can diagnose cancer at an early stage, in people who have not even developed symptoms, when the treatment is still effective.”
Viv Mussell, head of screening in West Sussex, added: “We are delighted we are offering men and women across Sussex the opportunity to be screened for bowel cancer, and this case shows how effective it can be.
“Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the UK – every year 16,000 people die of it.
“All 60 to 69-year-olds are invited to be screened for bowel cancer every two years, but in 2010/11 only around 58 per cent of those eligible across Sussex took part.
“If more people took up the opportunity for screening we would be able to diagnose and treat many more cancers at early stages, saving lives.”