A PROSTATE cancer campaign organised by Burton Albion and Queen’s Hospital has not only helped raise awareness of the dangers of the disease but has also been embraced by the community, say the organisers.
The innovative project aimed to take away the ‘fear factor’ and enabled men to seek advice at the familiar surroundings of the football club. A programme of free screenings took place at the Pirelli Stadium conducted by health professionals. These were fully-booked and resulted in 113 men being tested, with eight going on to be diagnosed with cancer.
Among those diagnosed with prostate cancer was 68-year-old Rod Gent, who was a volunteer helper at the screenings as part of Burton Rotary Club.
Rod had no symptoms that led him to believe he had prostate cancer and admits that without the campaign his problem would have gone undiagnosed. He’s now receiving treatment for the disease.
He said: “After the screening, I’m grateful that things moved quickly. It’s all down to the Football League for having Prostate Cancer UK as its main charity this year; Burton Albion for working alongside Queen’s Hospital and the staff there for their time and commitment to do the screenings.
“In my own view, these screenings are something that should go on every year as people will only come if there is an option open to them. People don’t go to their GP unless they have signs and people don’t know they have prostate cancer.
“Had I not come, then somewhere down the line I would have been in a worse state.
“I hope the campaign can carry on if the funding is there. The audience is out there at the football club and if they aware they can do something about it. Going to a screening at a football club means you are somewhere you are familiar and comfortable with.
“Me speaking out now is to make sure as many possible as possible know about the dangers.
“I can’t praise highly enough the care I have been given by the urology department.”
As well as the screenings, the hospital staff ensured that the follow-on care of biopsies and scans was in place to deal with those picked up as having a problem.
Jyoti Shah, consultant urological surgeon at Queen’s Hospital in Burton, said: “It’s the wait and the anxiety that goes with it that is one of the biggest problems. Most people can deal with the diagnosis once they know what it is – that’s why we needed to make sure everything was in place.
“Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in this country now. All the screenings were taken up and we had no appointments where people didn’t turn up. That’s interesting as it shows that we got the message out to the community. We had to turn away another 130 men; we could have done screenings all week. It shows there is willingness in the community to come to us.
“As well as those we diagnosed, it’s important for all those other men we have been able to reassure.”
John Widdowson, Burton Albion Community Trust’s Health and Inclusion Manager, said: “It’s now about looking at the next steps, making sure that we have the support of Prostate Cancer UK and ensuring the Football League can see the impact football can have on these important health issues.
“We are very proud of the campaign and the relationship we have with Queen’s Hospital that has enabled this project to take place. It was a real community effort and it was the strength of the partnership working that made it such a success. Hopefully, it’s something we can continue.”