THREE men behind a prostate cancer testing group are seeking backing to help them improve and expand their potentially life-saving service.

Cancer Testing South was established as a not-for-profit organisation in 2018 by Roy Sowersby and John Goodridge, who live in St John’s, following their personal experiences with prostate cancer.

Fellow trustee and chairman, Guildford-based Roger McDivitt, joined them in 2019, after losing his wife to a gynaecological cancer.

“Every 45 minutes in the UK a man dies from prostate cancer,” said John, who handles the group’s communications.

“Prostate cancer ranks with breast cancer in terms of prevalence, but there is no national screening programme in place as there is with breast cancer.

“We were determined to do something about it, so we recruited a small team of qualified volunteer nurses and phlebotomists with a view to organising events involving a simple blood test for indications of prostate cancer.

“In 2018 three events were held, all well attended, and by the end of 2019 another 15 had been added, testing 1,422 men.

“We charge £12 per test, but that just covers the lab costs,” added John. “This is where we’d like to get some financial help. By definition, we tend to choose venues where men gather, such as golf clubs.”

Prostate cancer more often than not does not display any recognisable symptoms.

During the COVID-19 lockdown period Cancer Testing South has trained a further nine nurses to help in the testing work and a further five nurses will qualify this month.

The first public testing event since lockdown was at Chobham Golf Club at the beginning of July. Blood samples were taken from 76 men, to be tested for PSA – Prostate-Specific Antigen – high levels of which can indicate prostate cancer.

An event at Guildford Fire Station saw 238 men tested and 42 attended a session at Papercourt Sailing Club in Ripley.

The results work on a red, amber and green traffic lights system, with red results needing urgent remedial action. Amber requires a GP consultation and green is within safe limits. The average recommendation rate for further investigation is 10%.

About 15% of all men with a “normal’” PSA level for their age might have prostate cancer. Two out of three with a raised level do not have cancer, but one out of three with a raised level will have cancer. Many older men develop an enlarged prostate gland which is not cancerous but could still need treatment.

The golf club tests resulted in a red and an amber alert, with four reds and three amber at the fire station. All the tests at Papercourt were green.

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