Football scheme to promote awareness of 'male' cancer symptoms

In collaboration with the Press Association

The Department of Health has launched a new pilot scheme using football to promote awareness of cancer symptoms in men.

Many men are not aware of the common symptoms of lung, bowel and prostate cancer and ignore problems with their health rather than seeking advice.

Health secretary Andy Burnham revealed that football clubs across England will be supporting a new one-year pilot scheme to improve awareness amongst men over the age of 55, who are most at risk of dying from lung, bowel and prostate cancers.

"Currently over 60,000 men get these cancers every year - that's enough to fill the average football stadium twice," the minister revealed.

"By raising awareness of the symptoms and making earlier diagnoses, we can improve the chances of survival."

The 'Ahead of the Game - Organise Your Defence' scheme will be run by the Football Foundation, which will arrange for nurses to hand out free information and health tests at matches and road shows.

Portsmouth, Brighton & Hove Albion, Blackburn Rovers, Scunthorpe United and Norwich City have all signed up to the initial pilot.

Mr Burnham added: "Ahead of the Game is a fantastic initiative which will use the massive appeal of our national game to raise awareness of cancer and help save lives."

Paul Thorogood, chief executive of the Football Foundation, noted that men are often unaware of the early signs and symptoms of cancer and are also uncomfortable about seeking help.

He pointed out that football is an effective way of reaching very large audiences and said: "This unique partnership between football and the Department of Health will go a long way towards reinforcing the understanding of what to look for and to ensure that men stay Ahead of the Game on cancer."

Stephanie Moore, founder of the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK, which raises vital funds for research into bowel cancer and increasing public awareness of the disease, added that the campaign could save the lives of thousands of men.

"Cancer can be a daunting thing to think about and I understand that some men shy away from talking about it, but I hope that through football we can break through these barriers," she said.