A Merseyside grandad is starring in a new TV advert to raise awareness of bowel cancer screening.

Peter Matthews, 69, is fronting a Be Clear on Cancer campaign developed by Public Health England and Cancer Research UK, which highlights the role of bowel cancer screening in helping to save lives.

The TV advert is aimed at men and women aged 60-74 years to encourage them to take part in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening programme.

People in this age bracket who are registered with a GP will receive an NHS bowel cancer screening kit through the post, every two years. Bowel cancer screening is a simple test that can be done in the privacy of your own home. It is designed to detect early signs of bowel cancer.

Peter, who is married with three children and has seven grandchildren, was diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer in 2015 after taking part in the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme.

He was delighted to feature in the TV advert in the hope that his personal story might inspire others and said: "I know only too well the importance of bowel cancer screening in saving lives.

"I just hope that when men and women of my age group see the advert on telly they realise just how simple the kit is to use and will feel encouraged to complete it and send it back."

Peter, a retired council worker, had not experienced any symptoms prior to completing the screening test, which he had done routinely since first receiving a kit seven years ago.

He said: "I had no problems with the kit and found it easy to use. I sent back the first test straight away, as I always do, but was asked to complete another when they found a tiny trace of blood. Following that, I had a number of small growths removed and tested, and they came back as cancerous.

Peter underwent surgery at Aintree University Hospital. The cancer had not spread and he did not need any further treatment.

Peter added: "I feel very lucky indeed that my cancer was caught early. Friends tell me they can't believe how easy it all was. The whole process only took a few months from diagnosis to completing my treatment. And I will continue to have regular check-ups over the next two years. So please don't ignore the kit when it arrives - take the test."

Every year, 2000 people aged 60 - 74 are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the North West and 600 people of the same age in the region will die from the disease.*

Fiona Osgun, Senior Health Information Officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "Some people don't return the test kit because they don't think they need to take part if they're not feeling ill. But screening is designed to detect bowel cancer before any symptoms develop. The kit comes with clear step-by-step instructions and tips for collecting your poo."

"Even if the kit does show something out of the ordinary, it doesn't mean it will turn out to be cancer. But if it is cancer, catching it at an early stage means it is easier to treat successfully."

Bowel cancer screening has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16 per cent.** When bowel cancer is diagnosed at the earliest stage, more than nine in 10 people will survive the disease for more than five years.

Dr Dan Seddon, Screening and Immunisation Lead for Merseyside and Cheshire, said: "As Peter's story shows only too well, bowel cancer screening is a great way of detecting cancer in the early stages when treatment is easier and more likely to be successful".

Anne Mackie, Director of Screening, Public Health England explained "It is important that we raise awareness of the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme and highlight that screening is a choice.
Screening gives those who participate, and who are unknowingly living with the earliest signs of bowel cancer, the best chance of successful treatment."

Cancer Research UK believes that no one should be diagnosed too late to have treatment that might save their life. Diagnosing cancer early is one of the most powerful ways to beat it.

For more information visit www.cruk.org.uk/beclearoncancer or ring the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Helpline on 0800 707 60 60.