Robert Moran, who is Provost of Inverclyde Council, was diagnosed just over two years ago after doctors found a tumour in his bowel.
The 59-year-old, from Greenock, is now recovering from the disease – but says the only reason it was caught so early was because he took part in the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme.
His plea came as the Scottish Government continued to encourage people aged 50-70 to take part in bowel screening.
Mr Moran said: "There is no doubt doing the test saved my life.
"I got the test kit through my door in October 2010. I didn't think anything of it, but then it came back positive.
"When I was diagnosed with bowel cancer the hardest bit was telling my family, especially my 80-year-old mum Helen, who just fell to pieces.
"But that's why you have to do the test."
The provost said he had no indications of bowel cancer – Scotland's third most common cancer.
He said: "I had worked in the shipyards all my life so things like piles and polyps were an occupational hazard.
"I had no idea I had anything wrong with me."
The grandfather-of-three had the tumour removed and was put on a course of chemotherapy.
When doctors approached him to take part in a trial led by Glasgow and Oxford universities, which meant taking half the dosage of chemo normally used, he agreed.
Mr Moran said: "I get tested regularly and it seems to be going quite well. I got less of the side-effects chemo has, like face spasms and sickness."
His partner Margaret and sons Robert, 31, and Ross, 28, were delighted when he was told he was cancer free in August 2011.
Now he is trying to educate people on the benefits of getting checked by their GP and taking part in screening programmes.
He said: "In the west of Scotland there are a lot of people, mostly males, who do not talk – but we have to get the message out to the guys.
"Cancer is nothing to be frightened off. Even if it is the worst scenario ... look at me, am I not standing here? "It's not the end of the world."