A BOWEL cancer survivor from the Vale who only lived to tell his tale after taking part in a pilot home screening programme is urging everyone eligible to do the same.

Roger Band, who lives in Salford Priors, has stepped forward to tell his story to try and encourage people to take part in the home screening scheme, more than ten years after it saved his life.

The former lecturer was 63 when he saw the pilot was taking place and decided to get involved.

"I was happily going on with no real problems," said the 76-year-old. "I had slight indigestion from eating lunch on the go in the car. Then one day out of the blue the pilot arrived. Being an engineer and never saying no to anything free I said yes.

"I did the test, which doesn't make half as much mess as people think it does. The test raised concerns and I was referred for a colonoscopy. It was discovered that my bowel was nearly blocked.

"Unfortunately it was quite late stage cancer and it had grown through the bowel."

Mr Band then underwent six months of chemotherapy.

He added: "The cancer spread to my liver, but I was given the all clear six years later subject to undergoing tests at five year intervals.

"I wouldn't be alive if I hadn't sent that off. It's now available to people who should do the test and they are not doing it."

Mr Band's call for people to take part in the scheme comes as new figures, released by the charity Beating Bowel Cancer, revealed there is a 60 percent uptake for bowel cancer screening in Hereford and Worcestershire.

If detected early, more than 90 percent of cases can be treated successfully.

Mark Flannagan, chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, said: "The majority of people are still being diagnosed with bowel cancer too late when it’s more advanced and difficult to treat.

"We know that bowel cancer screening saves lives, like Roger who was referred straight away after his test raised concerns.

"We want to see uptake increase to be at least equal to cervical cancer screening; we have the potential to save thousands of lives."