Every year many thousands of UK men die unnecessarily, from preventable causes, 70,000 – that’s one in five – even before reaching retirement age. CHAPS charity exists to raise awareness of this problem and to provide tests to detect at an early and curable stage some of the causes of these unnecessary deaths.
Prostate Cancer (PCa) and heart disease represent our biggest health challenges. Heart disease is the number one cause of premature death and PCa is our commonest major cancer. PCa represents our biggest single cancer challenge causing 47,000 new cases and over 11,000 deaths each year.
This is one of the highest death rates in the world, yet no UK screening programme exists, despite European programmes showing up to 50% falls in mortality and nearly all current major international guidelines recommending PSA screening, for appropriately counselled men.
They recommend screening should start in a man’s forties, particularly for men with a family history of prostate cancer or breast cancer on his mother’s side and especially for black African or Caribbean men who have a one in four lifetime risk of Prostate Cancer. Being in a screening programme, can halve the risk of dying from prostate cancer.
Running screening events and providing awareness literature costs money. They can only do this through the generosity of donors and sponsorship of events. To that end and since the beginning of 2017, the Provincial Grand Lodges of the Essex and Suffolk Freemasons have been sponsoring a rolling programme of screening events for Masons, their relatives and friends.
In collaboration with individual Masonic Halls and Temples and their attendant Lodges, they have provided free NHS Health Checks for men aged 40-76 and, for a small charge, have provided PSA Prostate Cancer Screening blood tests for men over 40.
The Health Checks look for heart disease – the number one killer – stroke and diabetes risk. PCa screening is done with the simple PSA blood test which can halve a man’s risk of dying from this unpleasant cause by detecting the cancer at an early, curable stage.
It is most important that their screening events justify their financial support. Since 2012, they have screened more than 2,000 men in Essex and Suffolk and at every event, they discovered unexpected and unknown problems, many of them life-threatening, but in time to take remedial action.
Specifically on PCa and their Masonic programme, so far in Essex and Suffolk at six events we have performed 304 PSA tests of which 29 were abnormal. From this, they can anticipate detecting about 10 cancers, most likely at a curable stage.
They have three more Masonic events this year and are at Chelmsford on Friday 6th October, Clacton (Rotary and Masonic) on Friday 27th October and Lowestoft onSaturday 2nd December.
Finally, they have one more major PCa screening event on Saturday 18th November at Ipswich Town Football Club. They are running this in collaboration with Ipswich Hospital, the East Suffolk Prostate Cancer Support Group and, crucially, the financial support of The Barry Kilby Prostate Cancer Appeal. This allows them to make a minimal charge of only £5 for the PSA test, but all attendees will receive their comprehensive Men’s Health Booklet and their Men’s Health Passport.
They are also grateful to the Caribbean African Community Health Forum, the ITFC Supporters Club, Ipswich Town Football Club and former Ipswich players Titus Bramble and Jason Dozzell, for promoting the event and especially in helping to get the message on PCa screening across to black men who carry such a high racial risk, of developing PCa.
Black men also get PCa at a younger age and it is more likely to be more aggressive than in white men, whose lifetime risk is only one in eight.
For more information about prostate cancer screenings, or on CHAPS, visit: www.chaps.uk.com