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Group offers tests to help beat cancer

PUBLISHED: 13:00 01 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:49 06 July 2010

A GROUND-BREAKING screening test is to be offered to men in Norfolk to help them find out if they are at risk of prostate cancer.

The Norfolk and Waveney Prostate Cancer Support Group is giving 200 men over the age of 50 the chance for a free test at an open evening next month .

A GROUND-BREAKING screening test is to be offered to men in Norfolk to help them find out if they are at risk of prostate cancer.

The Norfolk and Waveney Prostate Cancer Support Group is giving 200 men over the age of 50 the chance for a free test at an open evening next month .

It follows a highly successful event in March this year when 219 men were tested over the age of 45 - 31 of whom were found to have abnormal readings and of these, at least five men have since been diagnosed with prostate cancer and are now receiving treatment.

The group has been campaigning for better screening and treatment for people with the disease because, although it affects the same number of women who get breast cancer, there is no official national screening programme.

Campaigners want all men over the age of 45 to have a better opportunity to have the deadly disease treated early by having PSA tests (prostate specific antigens) which is a simple blood test to show whether there is a marker in the blood that indicates a problem with the prostate which leads into the bladder. This is, however, not currently offered on the NHS in this country.

Ray Cossey, chairman of the group, said the tests would help to establish if men were at risk from the killer cancer.

The-69-year-old former commercial manager for Norwich City Football Club was diagnosed with prostate problems 15 years ago and has since had his prostate removed.

“This test has already proved successful here because it has helped men to get treatment for a disease they might not have otherwise known they have.

“Last time the event was in Norwich and the next one will be in Yarmouth so we are reaching out to men from all over the county.”

Prostate cancer now causes the biggest mortality rate in men it has overtaken lung cancer as the biggest cause of death.

Men who want a test will have to meet the following criteria:

- they are over 50 years of age

- they have never had a PSA test or have any previous history of prostate cancer;

- they have been declined a PSA test by their GP;

- there is a family history of prostate, or breast cancer.

Dr John Battersby, public health director for NHS Norfolk, said the PSA test would not be offered as a regular initiative on the NHS.

He said: “The PSA test is a non-specific test; put simply, this means that it can show abnormal readings or results for a number of reasons other than the presence of prostate cancer. This could be certain types of prostatic enlargement, virus or even inflammation of the prostate.

“The PSA test does have a place however, as one aid towards diagnosis for alongside physical examination and more specific tests. It is also useful for monitoring established disease.

“In the meantime, we would of course urge men to be aware of symptoms relating to prostate cancer - such as difficulty urinating, frequent pain in the back or groin area, repeated trips to the toilet at night - and to go and discuss this with their GP,” he added.

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