Comic Bill Bailey targets East Mids men with prostate cancer campaign

Comedian Bill Bailey, who is fronting Prostate Cancer UK's new campaign
Comedian Bill Bailey, who is fronting Prostate Cancer UK's new campaign

TV celebrity and comic Bill Bailey is urging more men to improve their awareness of the major risks of prostate cancer in the fight to save lives.

More than one third of men in the East Midlands are unaware of all three of the major risk factors for prostate cancer, according to Prostate Cancer UK.

Prostate Cancer UK’s latest research also claims these men could be failing to have vital conversations with their GPs about their risk of the disease meaning thousands may miss out on being diagnosed at an early stage when treatment is most effective.

Comedian Bill Bailey is helping to encourage men and families to improve their awareness as part of a Prostate Cancer UK’s Men United appeal especially on the build up to Father’s Day.

Men United Gaffer Bill Bailey said: “It may have escaped your notice, but Father’s Day is almost here. That’s as good a time as any to remind ourselves that prostate cancer kills over 10,000 men in the UK every year. Not just dads, but brothers, granddads, sons, uncles and nephews too. So we’ve put a team together to beat it. Men United.

“Since kick-off in January, nearly two hundred thousand people have signed up with Men United. Join them and join the fight, and help fund essential research to find a way to calculate every man’s risk of getting a disease that kills one bloke every hour. So go on, help score Men United’s first win and give a Father’s Day Fiver. Score a real win today.”

The charity is launching the latest wave of its Men United campaign, which has built urgency and momentum around prostate cancer. The activity will be running for two weeks in the run up to Father’s Day. As well as fundraising it will aim to heighten awareness of known risk factors so that men can start managing their risk.

Prostate Cancer UK claims men at increased risk of prostate cancer include those with a family history of the disease, those who are aged over 50 and those who are black.

The disease kills over 800 men every year in the East Midlands and over 3,000 men are diagnosed with the disease in the region, according to Prostate UK.

The majority of early cases are symptomless and a lack of accurate tests for life-threatening forms of the disease means there is no national screening programme.

As a result, speaking to a health professional about your risk is a man’s chief defence.

The survey, conducted by YouGov on behalf of the charity, showed that more than one third of men (35per cent) in the East Midlands are not aware of any of these known risk factors which could increase their chance of developing prostate cancer.

And in the region, almost three quarters (72per cent) of all men admit that even if they were aware they had a higher risk of getting cancer than the average person they wouldn’t speak to their GP about it if they did not have any symptoms.

Prostate Cancer UK launched its flagship Men United v Prostate Cancer campaign earlier this year in a move to engage men in the fight against their shared risk of prostate cancer.

Owen Sharp, Chief Executive, said: “Black men, men who are over the age of 50 or those with a family history of the disease, must wise up to the cruel fact that they face a higher than average risk of prostate cancer than other men. “They need to know this so that they can instigate potentially life-saving conversations with their GPs about the next steps.

“This isn’t happening and as a result men are walking around like ticking time bombs, completely oblivious to the danger they face.”

Prostate Cancer states that existing diagnostic tests can also be inaccurate, meaning that on one hand, some men receive unnecessary biopsies, while on the other the tests available may fail to detect lethal cancers.

In addition, it claims there is no way to easily distinguish between deadly and harmless forms of the disease at the point of diagnosis.

So Prostate Cancer UK wants to transform the way that risk is calculated so that the most vulnerable can be diagnosed early enough to survive, whilst those at low risk are spared invasive testing or sometimes unnecessary treatments which can have life changing side effects.

The charity announces plans to fund research that it hopes will revolutionise the diagnosis landscape. Calling on its growing Men United network, it is raising funds to develop a new tool for GPs to calculate a man’s overall risk of prostate cancer and to determine what tests he needs to undergo.

Mr Sharp added: “The inaccuracy of the current diagnostic process and its inability to distinguish between aggressive and non aggressive forms of the disease means that GPs face an ongoing challenge in deciding whether or not a man should be tested.

“Should they risk missing a man’s cancer altogether, or put him through invasive procedures? There’s a desperate need for a simple and effective tool with which GPs can assess a man’s overall risk to guide whether he should undergo further tests.

“In the run up to this Father’s Day we are calling on everyone to support Men United by helping to revolutionise how we detect the most common cancer in men. Father’s Day is an ideal time to talk about this ‘dad’s disease’ and risk. Ask the serious question ‘how’s your father?’ this Father’s Day and you could help him save his life.”