Middle-aged Shropshire men encouraged to take a blood test that could save their lives

Middle aged men in Shropshire are being encouraged to take a blood test that could save their lives.

Boxing champion Richie Woodhall at a previous Ironbridge Lions testing event. Pictures are nurse Julie Rich with boxing champ Richie Woodhall. At the back is: John Marsh: Ironbridge Lions President, David Jeffries: Ironbridge Rotaty President .
Boxing champion Richie Woodhall at a previous Ironbridge Lions testing event. Pictures are nurse Julie Rich with boxing champ Richie Woodhall. At the back is: John Marsh: Ironbridge Lions President, David Jeffries: Ironbridge Rotaty President .

Ironbridge and Severn Gorge Lions, with the support of Ironbridge Rotary Club, are organising their fifth annual prostate testing event later this month.

Testing can reveal the early signs of cancer of the prostate gland. Prostate cancer affects around 45,000 men in the UK every year. A staggering figure of almost one third will die from the disease, for which there is no national screening programme.

In Shropshire alone, around 250 men are diagnosed annually with prostate cancer, say the Lions.

"We will be testing 600 men in three hours," said Ironbridge Lions secretary Colin Thompson. "That means one man will be tested every 18 seconds."

The PSA test involves blood being taken, not a physical examination, and all 600 of the Ironbridge Lions slots should be snapped up in the next few days, said Mr Thompson.

A team of local hospital phlebotomists are giving up their evenings to administer the £20 tests at the Abraham Darby Academy, in Ironbridge Road, Madeley, on Monday, March 14.

The whole event costs around £12,000 for the group to organise but Mr Thomson said previous grant funding means that any donations received from grateful men on the night will be ring fenced for next year's event.

"Before we went to a booking session in 2020 we had men queuing outside the venues," said Mr Thompson. The event did not happen in 2021 and online appointment booking is continuing this year.

More than five years ago the Ironbridge Lions approached retired consultant urological surgeon, Mr David Baxter-Smith, to help them stage the event which will be free to all men who attend.

Mr Baxter-Smith is an acknowledged authority on prostate cancer who has worked closely with Lions clubs across the country to make screening more widely available.

Testing involves a very simple blood test and all local men in categories ‘at risk’ from the disease are being urged to get checked annually.

The test measures the level of prostate-specific antigen in blood. A raised PSA level in blood may show a problem with your prostate, which is not necessarily cancer.

The ‘at risk’ categories for prostate cancer are:

  • All men over 50

  • All men over 40 with a history of the disease in their family

  • Any man over 45 from an African/West Indian ethnic group

The March 14 event will run from 6pm to 9pm at The Abraham Darby Academy, in Ironbridge Road, Madeley. On Wednesday morning there were a handful of slots left on the booking site at ironlions.mypsatests.org.uk/

However, an event is lined up in the future at Gnosall and Newport Lions Club on April 1.

And there is a website where more regional and local events are listed, at mypsatests.org.uk/Events/?s=shropshire.

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