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Column: Talk to your GP and be on the safe side

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I’ve just met some of Doncaster’s finest sportsmen to talk to them about a malignant cancer that has struck over 1500 local men in the last five years alone.

I went to Doncaster Rovers’ training ground at Cantley Park to meet players and staff of the first team and junior squad and spend a few minutes making them aware of the symptoms of prostate cancer. It was time well spent. March is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and I wanted to do my bit to spread the message about this disease, which mainly targets the over 50s. They were a bunch of young fit men – like James Coppinger and Andy Butler, pictured with me - who are currently not at any serious risk, but could be one day. But they have Dads, Grandads and uncles who are in the 50 plus age bracket, which is why it’s important know the signs and act quickly if you spot them. I was encouraged by the number of questions the players asked me when I finished my talk. It showed me how interested they were in looking after their own health and that of their family and friends. Only men have a prostate, which is usually the size and shape of a walnut and grows bigger as you get older. It sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is the tube men wee through. Prostate is the most common cancer in men in the UK. About one in eight men will get it at some point in their lives. The average age to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 65 and 69 years. You are two and half times more likely to get it if your father or brother has had it, compared to a someone who has no relatives with prostate cancer. Your risk of getting it is higher if your mother or sister has had breast cancer. Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than white men, we don’t know why. Nobody knows how to prevent it but staying a healthy weight – for example by eating healthily and keeping active, like the Rovers’ players – is important. If you do notice changes in the way you urinate this is more likely to be a sign of an enlarged prostate, or another health problem.

The signs to be aware of are:

· difficulty starting to wee or emptying your bladder

· a weak flow when you wee

· a feeling your bladder hasn’t emptied properly

· dribbling wee after you have finished

· needing to wee more often than usual, especially at night

· a sudden need to wee, sometimes leaking before you get to the toilet.

Talk to your GP to be on the safe side, or you can ring one of Prostate Cancer UK’s specialist nurses on 0800 074 8383.