Medics find 25 polyps in gran after routine bowel screening test

2nd Oct 2023

A Tipton mum has told how a regular bowel cancer screening test saved her life – after it detected 25 polyps despite her having no symptoms.

Lorraine Whitehouse, aged 73 carried out the test at home, and expected the result to be negative as they had been over previous years.

But after a positive result she attended Sandwell Hospital for a colonoscopy, only for medics to discover she was riddled with polyps, which are growths in the bowel and can be cancerous or turn into the disease.

“I was told it was very unusual to find so many and to not have any symptoms,” explained mum-of-three Lorraine, speaking during Bowel Cancer Awareness month.

“They removed 23 of them which were measuring between 3mm and 8mm. They will carry out another procedure to take out the rest, but it was a bit of a shock at the time. I wasn’t suffering with any symptoms. It just shows you how important it is to carry out the test.”

Normally around two to three polyps are found either through screening or if a patient reports symptoms and investigations are carried out. Screening is offered every two years to people aged between 56 and 74 in Sandwell and West Birmingham. The programme is expanding to make it available to everyone from aged 50.

Lorraine’s husband John who shares the same birthday as his wife also carried out his home test at the same time – and coincidently received a positive result. One large 20mm polyp was detected which was in the early stages of cancer.

John said: “I was told that had it not been removed it would have developed further into cancer. It saved my life and I would urge anyone with a kit to use it.”

Claire Beats, lead bowel cancer screening practitioner, added: “Bowel cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer. This test can help prevent bowel cancer or find it at an early stage when it’s easier to treat.

“In some cases we can find up to nine polyps but it is quite rare to find 25 and not have any accompanying symptoms. We were able to remove most of Lorraine’s polyps and she will return for further surgery.

“Both Lorraine and John have carried out their bowel screening tests since they were eligible which is what we would urge anyone to do when they receive the kit through the post.
“It’s really easy to do and could save your life as polyps left untreated could turn into cancer over time.”

The three main symptoms of bowel cancer are blood in the poo, a change in bowel habits, such as more frequent, looser stools, and tummy pain. However, these symptoms are very common and may not always lead to a bowel cancer diagnosis.

If you’re 75 or over, you can ask for a kit every two years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

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