Men across the north west have been urged to “get a grip” on the signs and symptoms of cancer.
Prostate cancer survivor Dessie Kyle, from Londonderry, and former Formula One ace Eddie Irvine have urged local men to look after their general health and keep an eye out for symptoms of cancer.
The new Action Man campaign was launched by Action Cancer NI as it emerged that in Derry, Strabane and Limavady there are, on average, 333 men diagnosed with cancer each year.
An average of 173 men die each year from cancer in the same region.
Mr Kyle (56) was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008.
Sharing his own experience to encourage other men to think more about their health, he said: “When working as general manager for a large building services company in 2007 I was asked to go for a private medical offered as part of the employment package.
“As I considered myself to be fairly healthy — I ate well, kept fairly active and didn’t smoke — I was initially reluctant to go, but in the end decided it could do no harm.
“The next day I was driving home and answered a phonecall from the doctor who had carried out the medical examination.
“He started by informing me that the results from my tests were good.
“However, there was one area of concern — a high result from my PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) blood test.
“A normal result is around 3.5, mine was 55.
“Two weeks later I was in Altnagelvin Hospital undergoing a number of biopsies.
“Within a week I received a call advising me that five out of the 12 samples had shown indications of cancer.
“I was so shocked. Even though there is a prevalent history of cancer in my family, I didn’t think it would happen to me.
“I lost a brother to skin cancer and a sister to bowel cancer within the last year. Another sister has just survived breast cancer.
“But when I did a little research and spoke with my consultant at the City Hospital I found out that prostate cancer does not mean a death sentence.”
After seven-and-a-half weeks of radiotherapy treatment Mr Kyle finished his medication in August 2008.
“My results were good and on coming off the drug I immediately began to feel much better.
“Now every six months I will get tested to keep an eye on my PSA levels, but I do feel very positive about it all.”
Irvine will lead the Action Man campaign throughout June.
The racing star said: “The work that Action Cancer does to highlight male health issues through its Action Man campaign prompts men to stop and think about their lifestyle and how to make informed choices to improve their well-being and reduce their risk of cancer and others serious illnesses.
“By paying more attention to our health, keeping our equipment in check and approaching our GPs if we have any concerns, we can actively help keep our health in pole position.”
For more information on Action Cancer’s MOT health checks contact firstname.lastname@example.org.