The new Men United campaign is tackling cancer head on. Grant Woodward reports.
IT’S the size of a golf ball, situated just below your bladder and it’s responsible for the deaths of almost 11,000 men a year.
It’s the prostate – and you ignore it at your peril.
Every year around 3,400 men in Yorkshire and Humberside are diagnosed with prostate cancer and nearly 900 go on to die from it.
Despite this, funding to beat the disease is still the poor relation.
In 2012, just £21m was invested in research into prostate cancer compared to £41m into breast cancer, despite a similar number of cases being diagnosed.
It’s why a new awareness campaign has now been launched by Prostate Cancer UK.
Men United is a rallying call for men to band together to fight a common enemy.
The idea is to build a united front by getting the message out about one of the UK’s biggest killers – particularly among those over 45 – and supporting men affected by it.
It will also lobby for a fairer share of funding, as well as look to intensify the search for more reliable tests and treatments for the future.
Fronted by comedian Bill Bailey, whose own father-in-law is one of the 250,000 men in the UK living with the disease, Men United has some heavyweight backing.
Leeds Rhinos skipper Kevin Sinfield has signed up, joining the likes of Homeland star Damian Lewis, Game of Thrones hard man Charles Dance, rugby legend Will Carling and Sir Michael Parkinson, himself a prostate cancer survivor.
Kevin Sinfield said he was moved to support the campaign after a man he knows well, Sky Sports reporter Bill Arthur, told him of his fight with the disease.
“As soon as you hear that C word you think the worst. That’s the stigma that is attached to cancer, and when Bill told me I was in deep shock.
“You go through so many different things in your life and something like that puts everything into perspective.
“Ultimately we play a sport for our job. It can consume you at times, and sometimes you can actually forget that it’s a game at the end of the day and there’s a lot more important things out there that people are struggling from.
“Bill really struck me how positive he was and how keen he was to help all the suffering of people in and around that had been diagnosed.”
Death rates from prostate cancer may have fallen by a fifth since the early 1990s but it’s still the most common form of the disease in British men, with 41,000 cases a year. Only lung cancer kills more.
Yet research is badly underfunded, leaving tests and treatments trailing behind other common cancers.
The quality and availability of treatment can also vary across the UK.
Earlier this month it was revealed that new curbs have been placed on a breakthrough drug to treat the disease, which could mean thousands of men are denied it.
Owen Sharp, chief executive at Prostate Cancer UK, is leading the charge to challenge injustice around the disease.
He said: “A man in the UK dies each hour from prostate cancer and another is diagnosed every 15 minutes
“Yet in one year England spent seven times more money on burning over-prescribed medicines than it did on prostate cancer research.
“That’s obscene and our men deserve better.
“Here, prostate cancer survival rates are below the European average, research into the disease lags a decade behind that for other cancers, and quality of care depends on where you live.
“It’s a scandal and we are not going to accept it. Men United is a powerful way for men, and the women in their lives, to mobilise against this common enemy.”
To sign up for Men United visit menunited.prostatecanceruk.org.
Prostate cancer facts
Only one in three men know where the prostate is and what it does.
A normal prostate is about the size of a golf ball and it is common for it to get larger with age.
More than 40,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year and 250,000 are currently living with the disease.
You are at greater risk if you are over 50 or have a family history of prostate cancer.
In 2012, £21m was invested in prostate cancer research compared to £41m into breast cancer.