Eastenders actor and others help raise awareness of heightened risk of prostate cancer in black men

Eastenders actor Rudolph Walker OBE is backing the campaign

As part of its Be Clear on Cancer Campaign, the Government has launched a new pilot to raise awareness of the increased risk of prostate cancer for black men. The pilot started earlier this week in six London boroughs and is being backed by a number of familiar black British faces.

There is evidence that the campaign is much-needed since a recent YouGov survey by Prostate Cancer UK revealed that a staggering 90 per cent of black men are have no idea that they are at a greater than average risk of developing prostate cancer. To be precise, black men have double the average risk of suffering from prostate cancer at some point in their lives.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with approximately Around 37,000 men being diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in England. Tragically, over 9,000 men die from the disease each year.

The statistics are alarming. 1 in 4 black men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. Prostate cancer accounts for 12% of cancer deaths and 4% of all deaths in men in England but it accounts for 22% of cancer deaths in black men and 8% of all deaths in black men.

The director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, Professor Kevin Fenton, said, “The statistic speaks for itself. Black men are at a higher than average risk of prostate cancer and need to be aware of this.” Professor Fenton explained: "We are focusing on black men over the age of 45, as we also know that black men have been shown to be diagnosed with prostate cancer on average five years younger than white men. Black History Month is an important time for Africans and Caribbeans in the UK and offers great opportunities for this message to reach these communities."

One thing which the campaign will focus on is the fact that in its early stages prostate cancer often presents no obvious symptoms. Yet, since treatment can be more effective if the cancer is discovered earlier, it is crucial that men are getting themselves checked regularly.

The London boroughs where the campaign is running are: Newham, Hackney, Haringey, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. All of these boroughs have a relatively high black population and an above average incidence rate of prostate cancer compared to other parts of the country.

The campaign, which will run until 23 November, will use posters, oyster card holders and radio advertising to raise awareness among the black community. More grassroots methods of campaigning will also be put into effect, such as having volunteers wearing Prostate Cancer UK clothing visiting barber shops and in the streets handing out information.

Rudolph Walker OBE, Les Ferdinand MBE and former footballers Mark Bright and Ade Akinbiyi are all supporting the campaign. Eastenders actor Rudolph Walker OBE has voiced his reasons for backing the campaign. “Too many black guys are unaware of their increased risk and this needs to change if we are going to beat this disease. Men need to man up and take charge of their health,” said Walker.

Les Ferdinand MBE has a personal motivation to increase awareness of the risks of prostate cancer. “I lost my granddad to prostate cancer and that’s why I’m supporting the Be Clear on Cancer campaign,” disclosed the former England international and Premier League coach. He added, “We as black men need to openly discuss prostate cancer as we’re more at risk than any other ethnic group. The good news is that if it’s caught early, treatment is effective. So, if you are a black man, over the age of 45, don’t ignore this message. Speak to your doctor about your risk and what you can do about it."

The Be Clear on Cancer pilot is a major step in the right direction and if successful should be developed further and extended to other parts of the UK so that all black men in the country are aware of their risk and what they can do to minimise that risk.

For more information about the important work being carried out by Prostate Cancer UK please visit:

http://prostatecanceruk.org/we-can-help/african-caribbean-communities

Alternatively, if you are seeking personal help or information regarding prostate cancer then please visit:

www.nhs.uk/prostate

or call 0800 074 8383 to speak to one of Prostate Cancer UK's Specialist Nurses in confidence. (The specialist nurse phone service is free to landlines and open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday with late opening until 8pm on Wednesdays.)

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