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Apr 21

Lions prostate cancer screening Event

HUNDREDS of men took part in the screening event.

The retired consultant neurological surgeon is spending his retirement travelling up and down the country to provide a potentially life-saving service.

The 70-year-old has spearheaded a project to tackle the most common form of cancer for men in the UK.

 David (pictured above) has been to football stadiums, cricket grounds, race courses and rugby grounds as part of his project.

By the end of the week, he will have a backlog of 1,000 letters to send to those who have been tested as a result.

The former Worcestershire medic certainly has a way with words and puts the problem into perspective with some pretty stark imagery.

“One in 10 men will get prostate cancer at some point and we have the worst mortality rate for the disease in Europe,” David explains.

“One British man is dying from prostate cancer every hour.

“It’s the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of men crashing every 10 days.

“Every man over the ages of 50, or 45 if they have a family history of prostate cancer, should really make sure they get checked.”

We spoke to David as he addressed hundreds of men last night at Hoops Bar, Uttoxeter Racecourse, to highlight the problem and encourage them to take up the free blood tests paid for by Uttoxeter Lions.

The club is one of many up and down the country that has accommodated David’s project, paying £15 for every test.

With an estimated 300 men having popped into Hoops last week, we’re talking about a significant expense.

Luckily, though, the Lions’ annual beer festival is a big money spinner and has been used to pay for the screening event for the last two years.

A common theme among many of the people we spoke to on the night was men’s reluctance to open up and discuss their medical problems.

According to David, this can result in vital early diagnoses falling by the wayside.

“It’s very difficult to treat if not caught early, like many forms of cancer.

“The blood tests we’ve set up are one way of achieving early diagnosis.

“It’s not 100 per cent reliable, but it’s the best test we’ve got at the minute.”

Specialist phlebotomists were on hand to extract blood from attendees’ arms before it is sent to one of the UK’s top laboratories.

The test determines each sample’s Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels.

David responds to every single person who takes the test with a ‘green’, ‘amber’ or ‘red’ letter.

Those in receipt of the ‘green’ variety have a low PSA level, while the ‘amber’ letters indicate slightly higher-than-normal scores.

The ‘red’ letter is sent to those whose PSA is high enough to merit an urgent trip to the doctor for referral to a prostate cancer specialist.

Each recipient of the ‘amber’ and ‘red’ letters will be given David’s number with a view to chatting to him about the results.

One of those who we bumped into on the night was Mike King (pictured above), who had travelled to the racecourse from his home in Cheadle.

The 71-year-old had two motivations for getting tested.

Six years ago, he went through the ordeal of major surgery to remove a melanoma after he contracted skin cancer.

Also, Mike’s parents both died from cancer – his dad from bowel cancer and his mum from breast cancer.

“I’m older now than my dad was when he passed away, so you’re very much of the mind set that prevention is the best cure,” says Mike.

“Cancer is a really horrific thing to have to go through, I can promise you that.

“So I think what the Lions are doing here is nothing short of absolutely wonderful. to be honest.

“My wife also had a stroke five years ago, so we’ve had our health problems and now we’re just determined to enjoy our lives.

“Events like this show tremendous community spirit and will hopefully give my wife and I some peace of mind going forward.

“My skin cancer was caught early and I very much doubt whether I’d still be here today if it hadn’t have been.

“That’s all the more reason to come down and ensure any further problems are caught early.”

Uttoxeter Lions’ event is proving so successful that other clubs from around the UK are attending to study how they are running it.

Beer festival organising committee chairman Steve Shields (pictured above talking to two Lions Club members from near Warrington), who will next year become district governor, was delighted with how the screening sessions had grown in their three-year history.

“We got the idea from Bridgnorth Lions, who have just done their fifth event,” he says.

“We’re so grateful to David MacDonald, the racecourse’s executive director, and his team for accommodating us in Hoops Bar again.

“We’ve got another Lions club here to see how we do it and it’s great that we’re being used as an example.

“I’ve had my test done and, every year so far, I’ve come back absolutely fine, so I’m hoping for the same again.

“We’ve saved about 15 lives so far through early diagnosis, which makes the investment more than worth it.

“I was delighted to hear that one of the guys who was diagnosed last year very recently was given the all clear.

“It worries me when I ask men in town if they’re coming along and they tell me they don’t want to know because they’re scared of what the results might hold.

“Women generally don’t have a problem with coming forward and talking about their medical problems, but it’s traditionally been a big stumbling block for men.

“We’re trying to break through that and hopefully the message is getting across now.”

Peter Ives and Debbie Leach visited the racecourse from Birchwood Lions Club, which is based near Warrington, in the north west of England.

Debbie, a midwife and nurse, was ‘astounded’ that so many men had made the trip down.

“We’ve come here to see how viable it would be to do this through our own club and it’s absolutely brilliant,” she says.

“From my own experience, I know men don’t look after themselves as well as women and it’s all about changing that attitude.

“The NHS is cutting down all the time so the Lions and other similar groups are more important than ever now.

“We need to get the word out there about prostate cancer in a similar way we have done about breast cancer.”