Monday, 2 November 2009

Wales team back GLAZE PSA awareness campaign

Warren Gatland's Wales will lend its support to the GLAZE charity's prostate cancer awareness campaign in the lead up to opening match in the Invesco Perpetual Series' against New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday 7, November.

Glaze is a registered charity whose name originates from the Green Lazer Light Equipment technology used in treatment. They are a Welsh-based organisation which raises money for treatment of the disease which has become the most common form of cancer in men and which can go undetected without symptoms until its most advanced stages.

Part of Glaze's awareness campaign is to remind men over the age of 50 that they can request a free PSA test from their local GP, a blood test designed to catch prostate cancer in its early, and therefore entirely treatable, stage.

The Wales team manager and former international hooker Alan Phillips, one of the few members of the national squad coaching team to have past the age of 50, is one of the figureheads of the Glaze campaign and he says he is tested every year by the national team doctor Professor John Williams.

"I've got to the age myself now when a lot of my peers are talking about this disease, a lot of people I know have been affected either indirectly and directly, but health is something that men of my generation don't traditionally like to talk about," said Mr Phillips.

"But the message we want to get over today and this week with the help of the players who can speak directly to the male population in Wales, is that if you are over 50 and you wait until you have to talk about it, until you notice a problem, then it could be too late for you.

"The simple blood test which gives you your PSA reading is something which I'm personally sure to undergo every year, I don't want to be sitting around in blissful ignorance, I want to know, I have a full MOT and if I don't pass it for any reason I want to be in a position to do something about it.

"We can't be embarrassed about this disease because that's how it will beat us. Modern players look after themselves, and are looked after, medically in every way possible. We assess our players on a daily basis and we want them to tell us if even the slightest thing is wrong with them, even if there are any mood swings or poor sleeping patterns.

"It doesn't come naturally to them and perhaps you would think in a macho environment like this there are things that go unsaid, but in reality its completely the opposite, everyone is encouraged to talk about their health and well being and it is only by doing that and pointing out problems that we can do something about it.

"Burying your head in the sand about the prospect of prostate cancer is exactly the wrong thing to do, it may be an uncomfortable thought but if you are over 50, get the check done once a year.

"This is a disease that doesn't give you any warning, often there are no painful symptoms, it creeps up on you there's nothing to tell you it is there, but if you catch it, its curable."

The Glaze charity would like to see a situation where all men over 50 in Wales know what their own PSA reading is and feel free to talk about it with their peers, conversations which are common place in countries like America where they screen for Prostate Cancer.

"We are asking men over 50, what is your PSA?" said Andrew Thomas Senior Urology Consultant at the Princess of Wales Hospital.

"We want people to be able to answer that question and to ask each other, the reading gives you an idea of what's going on in your body. If the reading is abnormal further investigations are undertaken, you don't necessarily have a problem if you have a high reading, but it would flag up a problem if one was there and the important message to note here is that it would flag up that problem in plenty of time to use what is very effective treatments.

"If we get nothing else from our association with the Welsh rugby team this week, but an increase in men over the age of 50 asking their GPs for the PSA test then we will be elated. As a registered charity we are always looking at new ways to find funding and the profile the team have given us will pay dividends in that way too - but the message has to be do you know what your PSA reading is and if not why not."

Proffessor John Williams, who has been the Wales team doctor for over a decade added:

"The Wales team are probably some of the most closely monitored and tested people in the country.

"With professional players these days there is no room for them to be embarrassed or secretive about ailments and we have to make sure they are in tip top condition at all times, although our players are too young to encounter this particular problem there will be many former players in rugby communities around Wales who should be heeding this advice.

"I have my own PSA checked on a regular basis, if it is normal then you know instantly you don't have a problem. It's vitally important that men over 50 know about this simple test and significantly are aware of the very effective treatments available if prostate cancer is caught in its early, no symptoms, stage."

Wales captain Ryan Jones added: "We are all quite used to being poked and prodded by the doctors on a regular basis, but we should all think ourselves lucky really because the decision making part of the process is taken away from us.

"That initial hurdle of making the appointment at the doctors and turning up in the waiting room with the trepidation that would naturally bring is taken out of the equation, but I like to think that when I'm not playing anymore I'll still want to look after myself.

"This PSA test sounds like such a simple thing and from what has been said about the successful treatments available if you are found to have a problem, getting down to your GP seems like the only rational thing to be doing for all those over 50s out there."


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