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Wessex Cancer Trust launches ActionMan campaign

WESSEX Cancer Trust, a charity that supports thousands of people living with cancer in Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight, has launched a men’s health campaign called ActionMan. Funded by Action Hampshire, it will encourage men to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer and contact their GP if they have any concerns.    

ActionMan has been launched in response to the results of a study carried out by a group of junior doctors in Hampshire. It found that 43% of men would feel discouraged from talking about worrying changes to their body for fear of ‘making a fuss’, and 23% would be too embarrassed. Many men delay seeing a doctor because they’re frightened about what they might find out or don’t know how to talk about changes to their body.

The campaign aims to reach thousands of men through groups including Rotary, Masons and Lions, businesses, workplaces like the emergency services, sports clubs, and – when Covid restrictions ease – face-to-face events. The campaign also recognises the role many women have in encouraging male loved ones to speak to their GP if they feel something might be wrong and aim to reach this group too.               

The charity has developed a new section on its website, which can be found at actionman.wessexcancer.org.uk. It describes some of the common male cancers and their symptoms, the opinions of medical professionals, details of the support Wessex Cancer Trust can provide, videos from some famous faces, information on how to get involved and stories from local men who have been affected by cancer.   

Sally Rickard, Managing Director of the Wessex Cancer Alliance, which brings together clinicians and managers from health, social care and other services to transform diagnosis, treatment and care for cancer patients, said:

“This is a really important campaign to help encourage men to seek the advice they need for any worrying symptoms that could be a sign of cancer. We know that 9 times out of 10, it won’t be cancer, but it is so much better to know that for sure, and if you do need treatment, then catching the cancer early will lead to better outcomes. There are several ways you can also help to prevent cancer, such as taking part in bowel screening or asking for a PSA test if you are worried about prostate cancer. The NHS is here to see you safely, and no one is wasting our time; it is what we are here to do, so please help us help you.

Our GPs across Wessex have all reported a drop in the number of people they are seeing with suspected cancer. This is concerning for them and us, and so our message to you is simple – if you have a symptom that you are worried about, please contact your GP immediately. They are ready and waiting to help you. If it is cancer, then getting that diagnosis early could be the key to better treatment options as well.” 

Philip Dinn from Brockenhurst, Hampshire, has made a full recovery from cancer thanks to an early diagnosis. He is urging men to be aware of any changes to their bodies, he said: 

“I was lucky. Fairly vague symptoms led me to see my GP and to have some blood tests that identified the rapid onset of rare blood cancer. Without that initial visit to my GP, my immune system would have failed, and I wouldn’t be here today. Thanks to treatment, I’m back hill walking and sailing two years later. Different types of cancer can develop at any time in your life, and anyone can get it. I urge you to be aware of any changes to your body and contact your GP if you think something might be wrong. Don’t leave it until it’s too late.”           

Launching ActionMan, Sally Hillyear, Wessex Cancer Trust’s Head of Fundraising and Communications, said:  

“We know that men are 60% more likely to get cancer, and yet this group makes up just 20% of the people who ask us for support. We’re launching ActionMan because it’s really important for men to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer and take action if they are worried about any changes to their bodies. We also want men to help their mates and loved ones by making it ok to talk about things. The idea behind the campaign really is as simple as that, but it could make a huge difference.” 

To access all of the ActionMan resources, visit actionman.wessexcancer.org.uk. To get in touch with the team, email matt@wessexcancer.org.uk.  

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