Thursday, 22 January 2009

Prostrate Cancer Awareness

Yesterday evening I joined a number of men of a certain age at Prostrate Awareness Evening held at St Cross Hospital. I had received a call earlier in the day from a resident telling about the event run by a voluntary organisation called Prostrate Cancer Support Association (Central England). I met the Chairman, Keith Hicks who told me about how he and others started the group a few years ago, having experience of this cancer themselves. The stats are that 10,000 men a year are killed by prostrate cancer and as with all cancers, the chances of successful treatment are much higher if identified early. Unfortunately some men don’t have symptoms until too late and men often don’t go to the doctor unless they are in pain or dragged there by a wife or partner. A blood test and an examination can give a good indication of a potential problem and hence a campaign to get the target group which is men over 50 to have this as a precaution. Previous campaigns have led to about 15% of those attending being advised to seek a referral for further examination. I was surprised to learn that the entire process was carried out by volunteers with Keith and his team organising and publicising the event and the tests by NHS staff giving freely of their time. There are clearly expenses incurred and the group do various types of fundraising and that also explains the collection buckets. With the current strong emphasis within the NHS of preventative care, I will be trying to find out why this activity is currently left to volunteers. In the meantime there are many men with reason to be grateful to them, even if it is only a matter of gaining peace of mind. Also, having done the test myself, I will be hoping for a clean bill of health and peace of mind personally!