'Cancer screening no big deal and can save lives', says Paddy

Paddy O’Leary says early screening can be a life-saver

Ryan Nugent

A Dublin man has told of how a bowel cancer screening saved his life as a campaign to get more people checked out kicks-off.

Paddy O'Leary, from Palmerstown, was diagnosed with the illness in October 2015, but thanks to early detection he has been able to fight it off.

"I'm one of the lucky ones - I was absolutely blessed," he said.

"I've had surgery and intensive treatment and more than two-thirds of my colon was removed after doctors discovered 34 polyps. If I hadn't had the Bowel- Screen test done, I might not be here to tell my story today."

Mr O'Leary's story comes amid increased campaigning from the Marie Keating Foundation to make people aware that early detection makes bowel cancer very treatable.

The foundation said there is a 90pc chance of living for more than five years if the disease is detected at Stage One.

Around 2,500 cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed each year.

However, only 40pc of those eligible actually take part in the screening programme.

"Get it done - it's no big deal," said Mr O'Leary.

"Only for Bowel-Screen I wouldn't be here, it's as simple as that."

The foundation said the tests can even be carried out at home.


"Our message is simple: take part in BowelScreen once you receive your invitation - you may have no symptoms but the test can detect this invisible disease and it could save your life," said chief executive Liz Yeates.

Prof David Gallagher, a consultant oncologist at St James's Hospital, said too many people are neglecting to get themselves checked.

"Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in men and third most common in women in Ireland," he said.

"Too many people are avoiding the BowelScreen test, the primary objective of which is to reduce mortality from colorectal cancer - currently at 11pc of all cancers - in addition to identifying and removing pre-cancerous adenomas in the lining of the bowel, thereby making bowel cancer preventable."