Testing kits for bowel cancer are being sent directly to people’s homes in east London as part of an NHS screening campaign for early diagnosis to help save lives.

A home kit used by Roger Shepherd helped detect cancer at an early stage that resulted in getting treatment in time.

His story has been revealed by Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Queen’s and King George Hospitals in Romford and Goodmayes, as part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.

“I received my results within two weeks,” Roger said. “But my letter stated they’d found something. I became anxious and started thinking the worst.”

But the letter also put the 58-year-old IT project manager at ease with reassuring about the next steps to take.

“It included statistics which helped put my mind at ease,” he recalls.

An early diagnosis could increase survival chances up to nine times, the trust said.

Roger was contacted by the screening team with an appointment and a further colonoscopy test.

The kits have been sent to millions of homes up and down the country as part of the NHS campaign to increase the uptake of testing.

The immunochemical kit requires a tiny sample of poo put into a container with a plastic stick provided. The sample handed in to your GP is then sent to NHS labs for testing.

The kit can detect small amounts of blood which are not normally visible. Blood can be a sign of polyps, small growths on the inner lining of the colon or rectum, or a sign of bowel cancer.

A cancerous polyp detected by Roger’s test kit was successfully removed. He is being monitored for the time being.

“It was obviously a bit scary and worrying,” he adds. “But I feel extremely lucky.

“I felt healthy and didn’t think there was anything wrong. Who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t taken part in this? I would have probably been in pretty bad shape in a few years.”

Roger is backing the awareness campaign and encouraging others to do the test that he says is “definitely worthwhile for the sake of a few minutes”.

The NHS programme was expanded in 2021, with home-testing kits sent people’s homes who are aged 60 to 74.