Over 25,000 men have taken life-saving 30-second prostate cancer checks after Ally Pally darts sponsor Paddy Power pledged £1m to tackle the killer disease

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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More than 25,000 men have taken a 30-second online test over the past fortnight to calculate their risk of the one of the UK’s deadliest cancers. 

New data shows the number of people completing Prostate Cancer UK’s online checker was five times higher than during the same time period last year. 

Ahead of the World Darts Championship, tournament sponsor Paddy Power announced it would partner with the charity in a bid to improve diagnosis and treatment of the disease, which kills more than 11,500 men in the UK every year. 

The initiative — dubbed ‘The Big 180’ — also saw the bookie reveal it could donate up to £1million to Prostate Cancer UK during the tournament.

Of the 25,000 men who have used the tool since the announcement on November 30, seven in ten, some 17,500, have been identified as being ‘high risk’, according to the charity. 

New data shows the number of people completing Prostate Cancer UK’s online checker was five times higher than during the same time period last year. Of the 25,000 men who have used the tool since the announcement on November 30, seven in ten, some 17,500, have been identified as being ‘high risk’, according to the charity

More than 52,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year on average in the UK, making it the most common cancer in men. Around 12,000 men die every year from the disease — the equivalent of one every 45 minutes

 More than 52,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year on average in the UK, making it the most common cancer in men. Around 12,000 men die every year from the disease — the equivalent of one every 45 minutes

The charity’s risk checker, which helps men understand their risk and decide whether they need a further blood test, involves just three quick questions.

These include your age, your family history of the disease and ethnicity to determine if you carry any of the risk factors. 

It then provides information on how men over 50 can access a free prostate cancer check and the opportunity to receive further information via email.

This includes links to what you could ask your GP, contact details for the charity’s specialist nurses, and further resources on symptoms of the disease. 

One in eight men develop the disease at some point in their lives, with more than 52,000 men diagnosed each year.

WHAT IS THE PROSTATE CANCER UK RISK CHECKER? 

The charity’s risk checker involves just three quick questions including your age, your family history of the disease and ethnicity to determine if you carry any of the risk factors. 

It then provides information on how men over 50 can access a free prostate cancer check and the opportunity to receive further information via email.

This includes links to what you could ask your GP, contact details for the charity’s specialist nurses, and further resources on symptoms of the disease.  

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But 9,000 men a year are diagnosed once it has already spread, making it the second most common cause of death from cancer in men after lung cancer.

Experts are in agreement that early detection is key to boosting survival rates. 

However, with no national screening programme, progress has been slow in bringing numbers down. 

By the end of the World Darts Championship, which begins on Friday, Paddy Power hope up to 180,000 men will use the charity’s checker to calculate their risk. 

The bookie will also donate £1,000 to Prostate Cancer UK every time one of the players hits the maximum 180 score during the tournament at Alexandra Palace in North London, which runs until January 4.

After 901 maximums were scored at the tournament last year, it is hoped that record will be smashed in December and Paddy Power could pay a £1million to Prostate Cancer UK. 

Paddy Power says the money raised will fund lifesaving research for men affected by the illness. 

The campaign was launched last month by the winner of the 1993/94 PDC World Darts Championship Dennis ‘The Menance’ Priestly — who was treated for the disease after being diagnosed in November 2007.

Rachael Kane, spokesperson for Paddy Power said: ‘This is an incredible result considering the Paddy Power World Darts Championship doesn’t begin until this Friday.

‘We pledged to donate £1,000 every time a treble 20 is struck during the tournament in the ultimate hopes that we can raise awareness of Prostate Cancer UK’s risk checker tool, encourage 180,000 men to use it, and sign a cheque for probable £1million by the time the tournament has concluded in January.’

She added: ‘If we can cause the number of men checking their risk to multiply by four before a dart has even been thrown, who knows what we can achieve once the action gets underway at the Ally Pally in front of 90,000 fans and a televised audience of millions across the world.’

The risk of prostate cancer increases as you age, with most cases developing in men aged 50 or older, the NHS says. 

Paddy Power (left) was pictured with ex-pro darts player and prostate cancer survivor Dennis Priestly (centre) alongside Prostate Cancer UK's Matt Holdstock for the launch last month

Paddy Power (left) was pictured with ex-pro darts player and prostate cancer survivor Dennis Priestly (centre) alongside Prostate Cancer UK’s Matt Holdstock for the launch last month

After 901 maximums were scored at the tournament last year, it is hoped that record will be smashed in December and Paddy Power could pay a huge £1million to Prostate Cancer UK. Paddy Power says the money raised will fund lifesaving research for men affected by the illness. The world's top players will be competing for the Ballon D'Art

After 901 maximums were scored at the tournament last year, it is hoped that record will be smashed in December and Paddy Power could pay a huge £1million to Prostate Cancer UK. Paddy Power says the money raised will fund lifesaving research for men affected by the illness. The world’s top players will be competing for the Ballon D’Art 

Symptoms can include needing to urinate more often, having to wait longer before you can pass urine, erectile dysfunction, blood in urine, weight loss or any new and unexplained lower back pain.

After discussing symptoms a doctor is likely to ask for a urine sample to be checked for infection and a blood sample to test the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which can be used to diagnose prostate cancer.

Celebrities who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer include Stephen Fry, who said he was ‘stunned’ after finding out he had the disease in 2018, but recovered because it was spotted early.

Musician Jools Holland revealed last year that he had been successfully treated for prostate cancer after a diagnosis in 2014.

In August, Prostate Cancer UK also announced that referrals for the disease have reached a record high in the last year — rising 17 per cent — thanks to the ‘Bill Turnbull’ effect. 

They said they believe the death of ambassador and presenter encouraged men to go and get tested. 

The Daily Mail also recently relaunched its End the Needless Prostate Deaths campaign in a bid to improve diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. 

WHAT IS PROSTATE CANCER?

How many people does it kill? 

More than 11,800 men a year – or one every 45 minutes – are killed by the disease in Britain, compared with about 11,400 women dying of breast cancer.

It means prostate cancer is behind only lung and bowel in terms of how many people it kills in Britain. 

In the US, the disease kills 26,000 men each year.

Despite this, it receives less than half the research funding of breast cancer and treatments for the disease are trailing at least a decade behind.

How many men are diagnosed annually?

Every year, upwards of 52,300 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK – more than 140 every day.   

How quickly does it develop? 

Prostate cancer usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs someone has it for many years, according to the NHS. 

If the cancer is at an early stage and not causing symptoms, a policy of ‘watchful waiting’ or ‘active surveillance’ may be adopted. 

Some patients can be cured if the disease is treated in the early stages.

But if it is diagnosed at a later stage, when it has spread, then it becomes terminal and treatment revolves around relieving symptoms.

Thousands of men are put off seeking a diagnosis because of the known side effects from treatment, including erectile dysfunction.

Tests and treatment

Tests for prostate cancer are haphazard, with accurate tools only just beginning to emerge. 

There is no national prostate screening programme as for years the tests have been too inaccurate.

Doctors struggle to distinguish between aggressive and less serious tumours, making it hard to decide on treatment.

Men over 50 are eligible for a ‘PSA’ blood test which gives doctors a rough idea of whether a patient is at risk.

But it is unreliable. Patients who get a positive result are usually given a biopsy which is also not fool-proof. 

Scientists are unsure as to what causes prostate cancer, but age, obesity and a lack of exercise are known risks. 

Anyone with any concerns can speak to Prostate Cancer UK’s specialist nurses on 0800 074 8383 or visit prostatecanceruk.org

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