Blood test offer for 'time bomb' cancer
Men in Norfolk and Waveney are being given the chance to have a potentially life-saving test for prostate cancer, even if they have no symptoms.There is no national screening programme for prostate cancer, partly because there is no completely reliable test and because some cases of prostate cancer never cause any problems.
Men in Norfolk and Waveney are being given the chance to have a potentially life-saving test for prostate cancer, even if they have no symptoms.
There is no national screening programme for prostate cancer, partly because there is no completely reliable test and because some cases of prostate cancer never cause any problems. But there is a simple blood test for the prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, which can indicate whether someone has prostate problems, and is already used as the first test for prostate cancer in men who do have symptoms. It is also used in the United States for screening for men over 50.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, responsible up 24pc of male cancers and 12pc of cancer deaths in men. Men have a one in 14 lifetime risk of prostate cancer, though most cases are among the over-70s.
The test is available at a free talk called “PSA testing and the need for screening” at the John Innes Centre in March. The event has been organised jointly with the Graham Fulford Trust, which exists to raise awareness of prostate cancer and promote PSA testing, and the Norfolk and Waveney Prostate Cancer Support Group, and is being paid for by both charities. Speakers will be retired urologist David Baxter-Smith and Mr Fulford, a Warwick man who set up the charity after losing a friend and a brother-in-law to prostate cancer.
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Men over 45 can register in advance for a free PSA test to be done on the evening. Afterwards, samples will be tested and men will be sent one of three letters - that their PSA is normal; or borderline, in which case another test should be done a few months later; or high, in which case they should see their GP soon.
Ray Cossey, 69, chairman of the Norfolk group, said: “A lot of men who start showing symptoms like problems with urinary flow already have quite advanced cancer. If you are waiting till they show symptoms it will be too late for some.
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“There are an awful lot of men out there who are simply sitting on time bombs but not knowing about it.”
David Haines, 77, from Easton, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003 and had hormone treatment and radiotherapy to tackle it. He feels strongly about the importance of PSA screening because his symptoms started a year before it was diagnosed, but his doctor told him not to worry - and only when he moved house and changed doctors was it picked up.
He said: “If this is successful we are going to consider doing others. We have space to test 200 people on the night, but if there are a lot more who register then we will look at having a second event.”
The screening elsewhere in the country has so far picked up more than 300 men with no symptoms who have prostate cancer. If the proportion is the same in Norfolk, seven or eight of the 200 men tested will have cancer.
The event is 7-9pm on Thursday, March 5 at the John Innes Centre on Colney Lane in Norwich. You must register in advance to be guaranteed a test. Call 01603 881213 or 01603 260539.