'Don't hide from cancer', ex-F1 racer Derek Warwick warns

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Media captionEx-F1 driver Derek Warwick describes the moment a tumour was discovered in his bowel

A former Formula 1 racing driver has spoken out about his "very aggressive" bowel cancer, urging people not to "hide" from screenings.

Derek Warwick, 61, who raced in the 1980s and now lives in Jersey, said he put off going to a free bowel screening test for about six months.

He had no symptoms but said the delay meant an undiagnosed "great big tumour" had spread to his lymph nodes.

Islanders aged 60 years and over have been offered free tests since 2013.

Since then, 70% of the 3,551 people in Jersey eligible for the screening tests have taken up the offer, with seven cases of bowel cancer detected.

Dr David Ng, consultant gastroenterologist at the General Hospital, said none of those seven patients had any symptoms, and it was important for everyone who was invited to attend the screenings.

'Place went dark'

Mr Warwick said he was the "fittest" he had "ever been" when his wife finally convinced him to have a screening test in March 2015.

Initially the doctor joked with him during the colonoscopy but "then the whole place went dark", he said.

"We saw this great big tumour that was blocking almost three-quarters of my bowel, and all of a sudden, Dr Ng, the whole thing, just got very serious."

Three main symptoms of bowel cancer:

  • Blood in stools
  • A change in bowel habit, such as more frequent, looser stools
  • Abdominal pain

However, these symptoms are very common, and most people showing them will not have bowel cancer.

Source: NHS

Mr Warwick, who was given the all-clear two weeks ago, said he underwent four to five "complete meltdowns" and lost the feeling in his finger tips and feet as a result of the chemotherapy.

"If you get a letter through the post for free screening, take them up on it", Mr Warwick urged, saying it had "saved" his life.

"It's men, it's us men who don't respond to that letter", he added.

Dr Ng said one in 17 people would develop bowel cancer in their lifetime, but 90% of bowel cancer prognoses could be treated successfully if caught in the early stages.

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