A STROKE of luck saved the life of one Witney man when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer and now he his urging others to make sure they have the same test.

To tie in with Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, Russell Leek, 55, hopes to encourage those aged 55 and over to attend the screening test which aims to prevent the disease from developing.

He said he was ‘knocked for six’ after doctors found a tumour when he attended his appointment at the John Radcliffe Hospital last year.

However, thanks to the early detection Mr Leek says he is now looking at a positive prognosis.

He said: “At the time of my test, I didn’t have any symptoms.

“I thought, at worst, that the test might find a few polyps that could be easily removed.

“As it turned out, the clinicians found a tumour – a 1 in 300 occurrence by all accounts.

“The news knocked me for six, and then the realisation dawned how lucky it was that it was caught that early.”

The father-of-two underwent several CT scans, and an operation was organised within six weeks. “

The facilities manager, who is still undergoing chemotherapy, added: “I’ve nearly finished my treatment, and the oncologists think I’ll live to a ripe old age.

“It makes me think of what would have happened if I’d ignored that letter; the tumour would have undoubtedly progressed and even begun to spread throughout my body.

“If I’d waited for symptoms to show, my prognosis could have been an awful lot worse - the screening saved my life.

“For that, I urge people to go to the screening.

“It could save their life, too - all for the sake of a quick appointment.”

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is currently rolling out the Bowel Scope Screening test across Oxfordshire for people aged 55 and over.

However, the Trust say fewer than half of those invited actually attend a screening.

All men and women aged 55 who are registered with a GP practice in Oxfordshire that has gone ‘live’ with the test will be invited automatically, while those aged between 56 and 59 and registered with a GP practice that has gone ‘live’ can self-refer onto the programme.

Bowel Cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK.