Appeal application against NICE decision accepted

Steve Allen, Tackle Patient Representative, reports that the combined application for appeal against the NICE decision on Abiraterone made by Tackle and Prostate Cancer UK has been successful.

A submission made by Prof Nick James, a nominated clinical expert, has also been accepted.

This is merely a first step in a long process. It does in no way mean the original decision will be revoked but at least it is progress.

NICE rejects use of Abiraterone for men with newly-diagnosed metastatic prostate cancer

Tackle is extremely disappointed to report the latest decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to reject the use of Abiraterone for men with newly-diagnosed metastatic prostate cancer in England and Wales.

Current first-line treatment for men with newly-diagnosed metastatic hormone sensitive prostate cancer (ndmhsPCa) is hormone therapy with additional chemotherapy (Docetaxel).  However there are many men who are unable to tolerate Docetaxel and, for them, there is a great unmet clinical need.  Abiraterone would have met that unmet need but this latest decision by NICE effectively prevents its use within the NHS.  For these men there is no choice: it is still hormone therapy only.

NICE do not deny that Abiraterone is at least as effective as Docetaxel when used in men with ndmhsPCa.  Their decision would appear to be have been made purely on the grounds of cost effectiveness and not on clinical effectiveness. 

This decision is directly in opposition to that made by the Scottish Medicines Commission earlier.  There is therefore now a disparity in availability of treatment depending on where in the UK the patient lives.

Tackle are already working in close collaboration with Prostate Cancer UK to lodge an appeal against this decision.  Read our Summary of the NICE decision and our Comments on it

if you are a patient who feels their treatment could be affected by this decision, then please do contact us via our patient representative: 

Please note that this latest decision will not affect men who have already commenced therapy with Abiraterone instead of Docetaxel as a result of the Covid crisis.

STOP PRESS: We have started the Appeal Process - read more here.

Restarting Cancer Services in the NHS after COVID-19

COVID-19 is an unprecedented crisis which has had a profound impact on health and care services across the UK and will continue to have an impact for the months and years to come.

To guide the restoration of services, Tackle Prostate Cancer along with 24 other cancer charities have come together - as One Cancer Voice - to develop a ‘12-point plan’, supported by available data and intelligence, for what we believe the health service in England will need to do to enable cancer services to recover from the pandemic.

The plan sets out how we can deliver the cancer screening, tests and treatment that patients need.

Read the plan in detail here.

European Experts Back Prostate Cancer Screening

Tackle are at the forefront of the campaign for a targeted national screening programme for prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer  is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in UK and the annual toll of deaths from prostate cancer continues to rise, now topping 12,000, with deaths exceeding those from breast cancer.

The European Association of Urology have now published a position paper in the journal European Urology which represents the conclusions of probably the most expert, unbiased body so far to report on Prostate Cancer Screening which comes out clearly in favour.

Read the full story here.

Tackle Trustee Roshani Perera turns the spotlight on mental health in cancer care

Tackle Trustee Roshani Perera, director of the Wicked Minds healthcare consultancy, has written an article that has been published in PharmaTimes. The article looks at the provision of psychological support services for men living with prostate cancer and their carers and families across England based on a Tackle Freedom of Information request.

Click here to read the article in full...

European Experts Advocate Population-based Screening

Tackle wholeheartedly welcomes the news that the European Association of Urology, probably the most informed and expert major international body to make a judgement, has published a clear and unequivocal recommendation in favour of population-based Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) screening to reduce the unacceptable death rate from Prostate Cancer (PCa).

In a lengthy paper published in the journal European Urology (Eur Urol, 2019; 76: 142-150), the 12 member expert panel drawn from across Europe, including the UK, has assessed all the key evidence accrued over 30 years of PSA use for PCa screening.

In summary, the greatest benefit derives from early detection of aggressive PCa at a curable stage which comes from having a baseline PSA at age 45 to individualise a man’s future risk of developing PCa.  This should be linked to the other standard risk factors of ethnicity and a   family history of prostate cancer or breast cancer to determine the subsequent follow-up interval:  one yearly PSA for men at high risk, extending out to 8 yearly for men at lowest risk.

MRI scans and new biomarkers should be used to determine which men with a raised PSA require a prostate biopsy and, crucially, to avoid unnecessary biopsies. Men subsequently diagnosed with non-aggressive, localised PCa can be safely managed by active surveillance thus avoiding unnecessary overtreatment.

Having weighed up the pros and cons, the panel concluded that the weight of evidence now shows a clear balance in favour of screening and thus fully supports the introduction population-based  PCa screening programmes.

Tackle Makes Submission to UK National Screening Committee

In partnership with CHAPS and ORCHID, Tackle has submitted our views on prostate cancer screening to the UK National Screening Committee (NSC).

In their last review in 2015/16, the NSC did not recommend screening for the following reasons:

Evidence suggests prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing could reduce prostate-cancer related mortality by 21%. Despite this, the major harms of treating men who incorrectly test positive still outweigh the benefits.

The PSA test is a poor test for prostate cancer and a more specific and sensitive test is needed. The PSA test is unable to distinguish between slow-growing and fast-growing cancers.

Current evidence does not support a population screening programme using any other test.

valuation is currently taking place which could have the potential to improve the accuracy of PSA testing to identify men at greater risk of fast-growing prostate cancers.

The NSC is due to review prostate cancer screening again this year. As part of our campaign for earlier diagnosis, Tackle has long supported national screening for prostate cancer, particularly for men at higher risk and the evidence supports its introduction. So, we wanted to make our views known to the NSC..

We are extremely grateful to Chris Booth, a member of our Clinical Advisory Board, who has put together the submission on our behalf, the conclusion of which is:

The UK’s current annual death rate of 12,000 men – that’s one death every 45 minutes – is unacceptable and the argument that the harms of screening outweigh the benefits is no longer valid.

Despite awareness campaigns raising the profile of prostate cancer, the low rate of PSA testing in the UK has resulted in little opportunity to use the tools we already have for early detection, discrimination between aggressive and non-aggressive cancer and the cheaper option of early, curative treatment compared with late, expensive, palliation of advanced prostate cancer.  Adoption now of proven, best practice use of PSA on a national scale could halve the UK death rate.  However, Primary Care does not have the capability to manage such a programme.

In the light of this evidence, the status quo discriminates against men, is financially unsound and medically unsustainable.  We therefore recommend a fundamental change in the utilisation and delivery of PSA screening commencing with men at high risk as the first steps in establishing an adequate, national approach to reducing the UK’s unacceptable death rate from this most pernicious cancer.

Read our submission in full here. We will keep you posted on developments.

Scottish Medicines Commission approves an extended use for Abiraterone

The Scottish Medicines Commission have recently approved the use of Abiraterone earlier in the treatment pathway for prostate cancer.

This approval is specifically for patients with newly diagnosed, high risk, metastatic, hormone sensitive prostatic cancer.  Or to put it more simply, patients who have just been diagnosed with significant advanced disease who would normally just be treated with hormone therapy (Androgen Deprivation Therapy / ADT) as a single treatment agent.

It has become apparent through a number of trials such as STAMPEDE and LATITUDE that better treatment outcomes, reduced progression of disease and increased length of survival can be achieved by no longer relying on mono-therapy with ADT but with combined therapy with ADT and a second drug.

The treatment pathway currently used is a combination of ADT and chemotherapy i.e. Docetaxel.  Docetaxel is not specifically licensed for this use, but by common consent is considered suitable for use in this way.  The studies showed that equally good or better results can be gained by using Abiraterone instead of Docetaxel.  There are a number of medical / clinical reasons why patients may be better treated with Abiraterone rather than Docetaxel.  This approval by the SMC now adds another alternative to the treatment pathway and quite rightly gives patients the possibility of treatment choice.  Tackle strongly believes that patient choice is an important part of the decision process for treatment.

This is a major step forward in the treatment that can now be offered to men in Scotland who have advanced disease at the time of initial diagnosis.  The SMC are to be applauded for making this decision.

Currently an identical appraisal process is going through NICE – the English body equivalent to the SMC.  This decision process is lengthy and has yet to reach a final conclusion.  The decisions made by the SMC are not automatically mirrored by NICE.  There is no guarantee that the same treatment pathway will be made available to men in England.  If approval is not gained from NICE, then there will obviously be a serious discrepancy in treatments available to men within the UK.

Tackle will keep a close involvement and will update members as soon as there is further information available.

Tackle awarded funding by the National Lottery

Tackle Prostate Cancer, the voice of prostate cancer patients and their families in the UK have been awarded funding by the National Lottery for the project Tackling Prostate Cancer – peer-to-peer support for men with prostate cancer. The grant is for just under £238,000 over three years.

There are three main aims for this project:

  • to increase the number of patient-led cancer support groups, particularly in areas where there is currently a lack of provision;
  • to support and encourage existing groups and increase membership by at least 10%; and
  • to ensure that we are reaching out to all members of the community whatever their background

Tackle Prostate Cancer is a patient-led charity addressing the real issues people face when they are diagnosed with prostate cancer and helping people to cope with their diagnosis and treatment. As a National Federation, Tackle has 90 support groups across the country, representing some 15,000 members. Many groups contributed to an online survey last year. The answers to which provided much of the background for the lottery application and helped towards its success.

Ken Mastris Chairman of Tackle Prostate Cancer said: “This is a really excellent start to 2020! It’s a great opportunity to help more men – and their families – feel less isolated, better supported and more empowered to navigate their cancer journey. It's a big project and we would like your support implementing it. We're very grateful to all those who helped us with the survey last year but particularly to former Chairman Roger Wotton who instigated and managed the project. This will be a lasting legacy to him.”

Prostate cancer is now a bigger killer than breast cancer, making prostate cancer the third biggest cancer killer in the UK. Every penny raised will make a difference, lives will be saved and more people will be aware of the need to be tested.

Along with the lottery funding Tackle will also be continuing to meet its objectives of campaigning on behalf of patients and raising awareness in the community. It will also enable the ‘Save a Dad’ initiative to be followed through in secondary schools where the aim is to get a discussion on prostate cancer in the National Curriculum, just as breast cancer is included today. Working through secondary schools Tackle would like to make teenagers aware that prostate cancer will impact 1 in 8 of their dads. The charity hopes that by educating the next generation about the importance of men being tested earlier it can help “Save a Dad”.


Evaluating psychological support services available on the NHS

We are very pleased to announce that the results of our Freedom of Information request to all NHS Trusts in England and Wales have been published in BJUI International. 

The background to this paper starts with Roger Wotton who believed strongly that the emotional and psychological aspects of prostate cancer can sometimes be more debilitating than the physical manifestations of the disease and we wanted to find out what support is available on the NHS.

As the article says, "it is concerning that NHS commissioned services, where they exist, seem to be under pressure and 28% of hospital Trusts have no NHS commissioned psychological support services ... and therefore rely on psychological services offered by national and local charitable organisations". This underlines just how important prostate cancer support groups are in providing emotional and psychological support to men with prostate cancer and their families.

Now that we have had the results published, we will look to see if we can build on this to help improve support for men and their families who might be suffering.

Read the article in BJUI International here. We are extremely grateful to Trustee Frank Chinegwundoh and Roshani Perera of Wicked Minds who prepared the paper.


Prostate Cancer Screening News

The MRI Scanning trial at UCLH highlighted in the national news brings hope of increased and improved prostate cancer screening for the UK’s number one male cancer causing 47,000 new cases and nearly 12,000 deaths each year.

MRI scanning is now the best way to see if there is an aggressive, dangerous cancer inside the prostate gland but the first step to find out is to have a PSA blood test.

The NHS “Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme” entitles all men over 50  and men with a family history of prostate cancer or black men of African or Caribbean heritage over age 45 to have a PSA test.

If the PSA test is persistently abnormal and there is no simple explanation, the next step is an MRI scan. If the scan is normal, the risk of an underlying dangerous cancer is extremely low so there is no need to go on to have invasive prostate biopsies and  many men are now spared this potentially dangerous test. If the scan does show up an abnormality, biopsies can now  be targeted  with much greater accuracy.

Remember, the first step is a PSA test so check it now – don’t wait for symptoms to arise.

Get a Score on the Board. You'd be nuts not to!

New Guide for Sons and Daughters

Survey results released today have revealed that more than half of sons, daughters or fathers with prostate cancer, avoid talking about his diagnosis.1 Despite this, almost one in two sons and daughters surveyed admitted to having questions they wanted to ask their father, 1 and three out of five wish they felt more confident in starting a conversation with their father about his prostate cancer.1

The results come from a national survey carried out as part of the Manversation prostate cancer awareness campaign, and questioned 200 sons and daughters whose father is currently living with a prostate cancer diagnosis.

In response to the survey, a discussion guide has been developed to help sons and daughters have better conversations with their father about his prostate cancer. These conversations are vitally important, as noticing small changes in men with prostate cancer can make a big difference to their long-term survival, as it could mean the cancer is progressing to a more advanced stage.2,3,4

The guide, available at draws on the experiences of sons and daughters whose father has prostate cancer, to provide practical advice and guidance on how to start these conversations. The guide also contains easy to understand medical information about prostate cancer and the treatments available to enable more informed conversations, as the survey highlighted a distinct lack of knowledge about the symptoms of advanced prostate cancer.1 The discussion guide was produced for the Manversation prostate awareness campaign, which is supported by Tackle Prostate Cancer and Orchid Fighting Male Cancer, and is organised and funded by Bayer.

Ken Mastris, Tackle Chairman, said: “Prostate cancer affects the entire family and it can be frightening for everyone involved. But good communication can help support families in tackling it together.”

The study also revealed 57% of sons and daughters worry about their fathers’ condition several times a week.1 However, many avoid the topic due to worrying their father will become upset, embarrassed or angry by the conversation.1

Ken says there is an unmet need for supporting young people and adults whose father has prostate cancer, sometimes years after the diagnosis. He added: “Some fathers may not be aware of the impact that their condition has on their children’s lives, particularly the psychological and emotional aspects. Family life may feel strained and when children are unable to talk openly to their father it can lead to feelings of stress, sadness and frustration” Ken said.

Findings from the Manversation survey revealed that: 1

  • Over half (54%) of sons and daughters say that the topic of prostate cancer is one that is avoided by either them, their father or both of them
  • More than three fifths (61%) of sons and daughters wish they felt more confident in starting a conversation with their father about his prostate cancer.
  • Almost one in three (31%) have never tried to start a conversation with their father about his prostate cancer
  • Worrying that they will upset their father and make things harder for him is the main barrier to having a conversation, followed by feeling awkward, a lack of confidence in talking about the topic and feeling anxious
  • One in three (33%) do not feel satisfied with the conversations they have with their father about his prostate cancer
  • Almost half (48%) have questions they would like to discuss with their father about his prostate cancer but don’t currently feel able to do so

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, affecting one in eight men over their lifetime,5 and one in four black men.6 While most prostate cancers grow slowly or not at all, in some cases it can spread to other parts of the body and become advanced.5

The survey showed that over three quarters (84%) of sons and daughters say they feel confident in recognising the signs and symptoms of advanced prostate cancer.1 However, just 1% (2 people) recognised all of the correct signs and symptoms of advanced prostate cancer (from the list that was shown in the online survey).1

Simon Greenstreet, Head of Communications, Bayer, says it is important that families are educated on advanced prostate cancer symptoms so they know the signs to look out for, and are able to act quickly.

“Family and close friends are often well-placed to help spot changes in a loved one's symptoms. It is important to address conversation barriers so that they can support and encourage their father to visit their doctor as soon as they experience any potential symptoms” Simon said.

“We hope that by providing real-world insight-based support and practical advice, we can help motivate and equip men and their families with the tools to have these difficult conversations,” Simon added.


  1. Market research with 200 sons and daughters, aged 18-45 years old, of a father currently living with prostate cancer, conducted by 3GEM Research and Insights in May 2019 on behalf of Pegasus and Bayer.
  2. Prostate Cancer UK. Advanced prostate cancer: Managing symptoms. Available at: [Last accessed October 2019]
  3. NHS. Treatment Prostate cancer. Available at:[Last accessed October 2019]
  4. Prostate Cancer UK. What are the symptoms of prostate cancer? Available at: [Last accessed October 2019]
  5. Prostate Cancer UK. Prostate cancer - A guide for men who’ve just been diagnosed. Available at: [Last accessed October 2019]
  6. Prostate Cancer UK. Are you at risk? Available at: [Last accessed October 2019]


Sad News

It is with the deepest regret and sadness that we announce the death of our friend Roger Wotton on Friday last week after a courageous fight against Prostate Cancer.
Roger was tireless in his commitment to the cause of prostate cancer awareness. He was a passionate advocate of the importance of the view of prostate cancer patients being heard and a strong campaigner for early diagnosis of prostate cancer. A full tribute will be published in the next edition of Prostate Matters.

We have lost a dear friend and we need to continue the fight for men against prostate cancer in memory of Roger. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Susan and his family at this sad time.

Tackle contributes to One Cancer Voice: a manifesto for people living with cancer

Tackle has joined other cancer charities including Cancer Research UK and Macmillan to publish a manifesto for people living with cancer. The key points are:

  1. Put the right staff in place
  2. Diagnose cancer earlier
  3. Ensure people living with cancer have access to the appropriate treatment and pscychological support
  4. Support people living with cancer beyond their treatment
  5. Preserve the UK's status as a world-leader in cancer research
  6. Prevent people from developing cancer

Read the Once Cancer Voice manifesto here

Prostate Cancer Screening - Update

As a Charity campaigning for better awareness and access to PSA screening for Prostate Cancer (PCa), we flag up significant advances in our fight against our commonest male cancer killing nearly 12,000 UK men every year, a figure now exceeding deaths from breast cancer. We therefore track reports from scientific journals and international conferences. The “take home” messages so far this year from Europe and the UK are:

• There are NO new markers available to replace PSA as the initial screening tool for PCa.
• “Risk Calculators” can be used to determine risk and optimum frequency of PSA testing for men over 40 ref 1
• The key risk factors are: the initial PSA level* ref 2,3, advancing age, a family history of prostate cancer or breast cancer and black ethnicity, including men of mixed African or Caribbean descent. Most GPs are not familiar with these risk factors ref 4.
• DO NOT stop screening at age 70 ref 5.
• Men in PSA screening programmes run for up to 20 years are now consistently benefiting from 50% reductions in the PCa death rate compared with men who are not being screened ref 6,7. Consequently the European Urological Association has now recommended to the European Parliament that national PSA-based screening programmes be introduced ref 8.
• A raised PSA must be followed by second line tests BEFORE undergoing a prostate biopsy. In the UK mp-MRI is the recommended test ref 9 but numerous blood and urine tests are competing for recognition.
• mp-MRI scanning is greatly reducing the so-called “over-diagnosis” of non-aggressive, insignificant PCa in the UK ref 10.
• NO tests are 100% reliable yet in detecting PCa or differentiating between aggressive cancers that need treatment and non-aggressive, insignificant cancers that do not need treatment, but the “over-treatment” rate for non-aggressive, insignificant PCa in the UK has now fallen to only 4% ref 11.
• “Active Surveillance” is a safe treatment option for apparent non-aggressive PCa ref 12.
• Minimally invasive treatments for early, localised PCa continue to demonstrate reduced side effects and good cancer control/cure.

* For men age 40-60, a “normal” initial PSA of 1-2ng/ml carries a 26% risk of later PCa; an initial PSA of 2-3ng/ml carries a 40% risk of later PCa. Such men require 1-2 yearly screening.

In conclusion, the evidence now clearly shows that if a man wishes to reduce his chance of dying from PCa, he should start PSA screening no later than age 50. All men over 50 in the UK are entitled to have a PSA test on the NHS, after appropriate counselling, which can be arranged via your GP. This is a current NHS entitlement ref 13.


1. Prostate Cancer Research Foundation, Reeuwijk. In partnership with the European Randomised Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer; accessed 4/10/19.

2. Scand J Urol. 2018. Sep 21: 1-7.

3. Eur Urol. 2013. 64(3): 347-54

4. 2019. Prostate Cancer: Survey of GPs. Censuswide; accessed 21/10/19.

5. BJU Int. 2014; 113: 186-88.

6. Eur Urol. 2015; 65: 329-36.

7. Urology. 2018; 118: 119-26.

8. Policy Paper on PSA Screening for Prostate Cancer. European Association of Urology.
January 2019.

9. 131/chapter/Recommendations # assessment-and-diagnosis. May 2019; Accessed 21/10/19.

10. Lancet 2017; 389: 815-22.

11. National Prostate Cancer Audit; Annual Report 2019, HQIP.

12. N Eng J Med 2016; 375: 1415-24.

13. Public Health England. Accessed 21/10/19.

Roger Retires

At our Board Meeting this week, Roger Wotton, Chairman of Tackle Prostate Cancer since January 2015, announced his resignation as a trustee with immediate effect. He commented:

"It is with deep regret that I announced my resignation as a trustee of Tackle. This is entirely due to the progressive nature of my advanced prostate cancer. At the moment I have reached the end of the road for any further therapy and it is unfortunate that this has developed over a relatively short period of time. The last 5 years with Tackle have been some of my most enjoyable and I will really miss the challenges, the camaraderie and the work in helping men and their families suffering from this terrible disease.

I believe I am leaving Tackle at a time when we have enhanced our reputation, raised our profile and established a sound financial position for the charity. There is never a good time to say goodbye, but I do feel that I now need to focus on things closer to home, as much as I have enjoyed helping others".

The other trustees thanked Roger for his enormous contribution to the success of the charity and wished him all the best.

The Board announces that Ken Mastris has been appointed Chairman and John Coleman as Secretary and Vice Chairman.


Tackle Appoints new Trustee

Tackle is very pleased to announce the appointment of Jackie Manthorpe as a Trustee with immediate effect.

Jackie has been a Humanistic-Integrative Counsellor for four years. Prior to that, she spent 18 years in commercial insurance and 20 years as a registered nurse.

She has first-hand experience of being both a cancer carer and relative of someone with cancer. She is actively engaged with a local prostate cancer support group and works, pro bono, for two charities in the counsellor role.

Jackie commented "I look forward to engaging with the other trustees and working towards making Tackle more successful and sustainable for the future".

Prostate Cancer Screening - Update

As a charity campaigning for better awareness and access to PSA screening for Prostate Cancer (PCa), we flag up significant advances in our fight against our commonest male cancer killing nearly 12,000 UK men every year, a figure now exceeding deaths from breast cancer.  We therefore track reports from scientific journals and international conferences.  The “take home” messages so far this year have come mainly from Europe:

  • There are no new markers available to replace PSA as the initial screening tool for PCa.
  • “Risk Calculators” should be used to determine the optimum frequency of PSA testing for men over 40.
  • Do not stop screening at age 70.
  • Men in PSA screening programmes run for up to 20 years are now consistently benefiting from 50% reductions in the PCa death rate compared with men who are not being screened.  Consequently the European Urological Association has now recommended to the European Parliament that national PSA-based screening programmes be introduced.
  • A raised PSA must be followed by second line tests before undergoing a prostate biopsy.  In the UK mp-MRI is the recommended test but numerous blood and urine tests are competing for recognition.
  • No tests are 100% reliable yet in detecting PCa or differentiating between aggressive cancers that need treatment and non-aggressive, insignificant cancers that do not need treatment, but we are getting close to this objective.
  • mp-MRI scanning is greatly reducing the so-called “over-diagnosis” of non-aggressive, insignificant PCa in the UK.
  • The so-called “over-treatment” rate for non-aggressive, insignificant PCa in the UK has fallen to only 4%.
  • “Active Surveillance” is a safe treatment option for apparent non-aggressive PCa.
  • Minimally invasive treatments for early, localised PCa continue to demonstrate reduced side effects and good cancer control/cure.

In conclusion, the evidence now clearly shows that if a man wishes to reduce his chance of dying from PCa, he should start PSA screening no later than age 50.  All men over 50 in the UK are entitled to have a PSA test as decreed in current NHS regulations.

Chris Booth, Member of Tackle's Clinical Advisory Board

Wilts Walking FC sport their new Tackle-sponsored strip!

Wilts Walking Football Club Over 50s team sport their new strip sponsored by Tackle.

Captained by Tackle Trustee, Alphonso Archer, the team got off to a good start in the Gloucestershire FA 2019/20 league by winning two games and drawing one.

Everyone wishes them every success for the season but particularly in raising awareness of prostate cancer and the importance of early diagnosis.

Shepway Veterans raise £6,445 for Tackle on The 3 Peaks Challenge

Shepway Veterans, a group of men over 45 have just completed the challenge of a lifetime: climbing the 3 highest peaks in the UK, starting with Ben Nevis in Scotland, then onto Scafell Pike in England and finishing with Snowdon in North Wales raising awareness and funds for Tackle Prostate Cancer. 

Back in August 2017 Alistair Hammond founder of Shepway Veterans lost his father-in-law, Graham to prostate cancer. This left a huge hole in his family’s life, but it also made his family so much more aware of the issues that face men and the very real need to do something to help and make a difference.

Alistair decided he wanted to help, so after talking to some close friends he hatched a plan to form a group of over 45-year-olds who all live in or around the Shepway area and "Shepway Veterans" was created. Made up of a group of seven men  from all walks of life, but all have a connection with men’s cancers, loved ones lost and battling the disease and one of the team is a survivor.

Alistair Hammond from Folkestone, founder of Shepway Veterans said: “After my father in law was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer and sadly lost his fight in 2017, I formed a group of friends called the 'Shepway Veterans' who all have similar stories-one is a survivor-to do something to support the ongoing search for a cure for all cancers. We recognised Tackle Prostate Cancer as the perfect charitable partner to support because it helps dads, families and friends and is one of the smaller national charities that help raise awareness of men's cancer, so everyone gets the help they need. The team are determined to raise as much money and raise awareness in the fight to save men’s lives.”

After a year of meticulous planning from training schedules, to kit and finally the accommodation and transport, it all came together seamlessly as The Shepway Veterans took on the 3 tallest Peaks in Scotland, England and Wales-“The Three Peaks”.

Alistair Hammond reflected on the challenge: “Journey north went without issue, although Kai left his iD (passport) on the plane, so a penalty sanction was owed for delaying our departure to Ben Nevis on the first day! Sleep came and went for us all as the nerves and realisation of the task ahead as the challenge was here…finally. Ben Nevis was first and although steep and never ending being the tallest at 1340m, it turned out to be the most straightforward.  36,590 steps got us up and down, one member took a fall on the descent but only damaged walking trousers thankfully and we completed the trek in just over 6 hours.  The descent proving to be the most challenging.”

Five and a half hours later took The Shepway Veterans south to Cumbria and the beautiful Lake District. Scafell Pike is the shortest of the three, but by no means easiest.  The route started fairly well, winding through a valley on sensible paths, then the climbing began up stones stuck into the landscape to provide a stepped approach.

Alistair Hammond commented: “We reached the Styhead Tarn and the ominous vision of the stretcher box faced us, thankfully Scafell Pike was shrouded in cloud as the threat of bad weather was on the cards.  After a few twists and turns and a slight detour (the map route is slightly off), Kai announced that his knee (an old injury) was sore and unfortunately had to pull out of the remainder of the climb.  Simon, gracefully offered to take Kai back to basecamp and the rest, Martin, Brian, Mark, Ade and I pushed on up. Two scrambling points on this particular route, which really challenged Mark, Ade and I as we were slightly terrified of heights and the climbs whilst short were high above a gully.  With the support and expert tuition from both Martin and Brian, we made it up and onto the plateau where the climb to the summit faced us.  The weather was closing in and we would be facing gusts of 50-60 mph, so no pit stops at the top (only a photo opportunity).

The trip down was slower than anticipated as the terrain was uneven and safe return was paramount. Exhausted with tired legs, the group drove the 4.5 hours to Llanberis, Wales, to meet Snowdon. Final day and the weather which had been kind all week, was unleashing all hell. 

 Alistair Hammond said: “It rained as soon as we exited the vehicle and shortly after we all put on full waterproofs.   Snowdon was going to be tough.  We chose the Miners route which was a gentle walk in with a steep climb to join the Pyg track.  This proved tricky as the route wasn’t clear and required us to climb or scramble up and up for ages, this tested us all, as the wind was gusting at 60 mph.  We were soaked and cold. The weather kicked in fully, but eventually we neared the summit only to be advised the wind was over 70 mph. We crawled for the photo on the summit as it was so difficult to stand comfortably, safety first.  Grateful to have reached the top of the most challenging climb, we took shelter in the doorway of the closed café to wring out gloves/hats and get warm.  We decided to descend via the Llanberis path, which was longer but safer given the conditions and the fatigue felt by all. 

27,000 steps and the welcome sight of the vehicles and Kai, who couldn’t take part in the final climb due to his knee, were waiting for us.  Relieved and extremely grateful for the support from the team we hugged, then headed back to the hotel for a shower before heading out for a meal and drinks. 

Despite the disappointment of Kai injuring his knee, me injuring my thigh, we managed to pull together to complete tough climbs.  The team really helped each other, and I couldn’t have done it without them. Thanks to all who donated and all who will donate.  We are so thankful.”

Roger Wotton, Chairman of Tackle Prostate Cancer says: "We know how devastating the diagnosis of prostate cancer can be.  By raising awareness and funds we will hopefully see more men being tested earlier, and help accelerate a reduction in mortality figures. Prostate cancer doesn’t just affect the man diagnosed – it affects his whole family. Shepway Veterans are a true inspiration to others and we are grateful for their support."

The group has received fantastic support from local company (LIFElabs) a Fintech blockchain company who will provide a facility for donations to be accepted in digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and LIFEtoken. LIFElabs have agreed to help sponsor aspects of the challenge and will match fund donations received- up to £5,000. The LIFEtoken community have donated 13 million LIFEtoken.

LIFElabs’ CMO, David Pugh-Jones commented: “We are extremely proud to sponsor Alistair and the Shepway Veteran’s team, supporting them in raising funds for the inspirational Tackle Prostate charity. As a company that has philanthropy and pioneering technology at its heart, it was a perfect opportunity for us to match fund donations and help build awareness of Prostate Cancer.”

Read the full blog of the challenge of the challenge:

Prostate Peddlers Open Day - Get Physically and Mentally Fit

Prostate Peddlers is an exercise club whose aim is to help you become both mentally and physically fitter so that you are in the best possible shape and state of mind to keep your prostate cancer at bay.

On 28 September, they are inviting anybody interested to come for a ride and enjoy their ‘taster’ Open Day in the Ashridge Forest. Interested? Find out more here.

Shepway Veterans take on the 3 Peaks Challenge

Good luck to the Shepway Veterans, a group of men over 45 from South East Kent who are taking on the challenge of a lifetime between 10 and 12 September: to climb the 3 highest peaks in the UK, starting with Ben Nevis in Scotland, then on to Scafell Pike in England and finishing with Snowdon in North Wales.

They are raising awareness and funds for Tackle Prostate Cancer.

Tackle Trustee faces his fears with a paragliding jump in Turkey

Tackle Prostate Cancer has recently teamed up with Wiltshire Walking Football Club to help raise awareness of prostate cancer.

Tackle Trustee Alphonso Archer -a member of Wilts WFC - recently faced his fears with a paragliding jump in Turkey.  Alphonso took to the skies wearing his Tackle Walking Football bib.

Read the full story here.


Tackle teams up with Wiltshire Walking Football Club to help raise awareness of prostate cancer

Tackle has teamed up with Wiltshire Walking Football Club to help raise awareness of prostate cancer.

Walking football is different to regular Association Football and is aimed at the over 50s age group, teams are springing up across the country. Many tournaments are now catering exclusively for the over 60s age group. It has very specific rules that outlaw all running and allows no contact between players. Over-head height restrictions and indirect free kicks ensure that the sport is played safely with full consideration to the participants’ age.

Teams are either 5 or 6-a-side. As a result of these rules, games are played at a slower pace, often on state of the art 3G artificial grass pitches, thus reducing the threat of pain, discomfort and injury, with players briskly walking through matches. This allows people who have loved the sport all their lives to once again safely get back to playing and also introduces the sport to people who perhaps have never considered playing before.

Tackle have offered to supply all the Wiltshire recreational sessions with new bibs which will benefit the average 600 players who play across the area on a monthly basis. They are also providing both the Over 50 and Over 60 teams with a new set of shirts each along with new bibs.

Tony Norton, Lead Volunteer/Organiser for Wiltshire Walking Football (recreational) and the Chairman/Club Secretary for Wilts Walking FC said: “There are lots of worthy causes and charities for us to support but Tackle is not only a very appropriate name to be associated with Walking Football but a very appropriate cause for the age group concerned in walking football and currently mainly male players. We are very proud to be partnered with Tackle, not only because our team manager Alphonso Archer is now a trustee but we all want to help spread the awareness of the charity and encourage males to get checked early; early diagnosis can often result in higher chances of fighting this horrible cancer.”

Roger Wotton chairman of Tackle Prostate Cancer commented: "We are looking forward to the collaboration this coming season to raise awareness and funds. This could develop into a very useful way of encouraging men with prostate cancer to get regular exercise, stay healthy and have a better quality of life.”

Tackle has recently appointed Alphonso Archer as a Trustee to the charity. Alphonso has close connection with Wiltshire Walking Football Club. During his treatment period, Alphonso took up walking football which mentally and physically helped him to get through what was a very challenging time getting used the hormone and radiotherapy side effects.

Alphonso said: “This is the perfect partnership for us as we aim to get prostate cancer high on the agenda until it becomes a disease of less significance. I have made it to the other side and achieved some great successes on the way and want to spread positivity to all men and their families so that we can beat this by working together. I am really looking forward to working with the Board and all supporters to keep prostate cancer high on the agenda in all areas until this becomes a disease of less significance.”

Towards Prostate Cancer Screening

Chris Booth, a member of our Clinical Advisory Board, reports on the outcomes of our Conference theme of "Prostate Cancer: To Screen or Not to Screen":

Over 47,000 UK men are diagnosed with prostate cancer (PCa) every year and nearly 12,000 die from it, a greater death rate now than for breast cancer.  Aside from the unpleasantness of death from PCa and its huge cost to the NHS, there is a clear inequity in the lack of provision and laissez faire attitude to our commonest male cancer, now killing a man every 45 minutes and with the UK death rate continuing to rise.

The UK Government’s health strategy is to promote prevention and early diagnosis, but without up to date guidance, the situation around prostate cancer screening in the UK remains as confused as ever for both men and GPs alike.  Whilst a veritable flood of “advances” in PCa diagnostics and clinical practice are reported every week, Public Health England and the National Screening Committee remain silent on PCa screening or repeat the outdated mantra that the “harms” of screening outweigh the benefits.

The Annual Conference of The National Federation of Prostate Cancer Support Groups (Tackle Prostate Cancer) in Birmingham on 13th June 2019 dealt directly with this problem under the Conference Title “Prostate Cancer:  To Screen or Not to Screen”.  A series of talks from organisations performing screening, an epidemiologist providing up-to-date information on the results of international PSA-based screening programmes, an expert GP and leading PCa charities (Box 1) provided a comprehensive, fact-based overview from which clear conclusions were drawn.  It should be emphasised that these conclusions are based on hard facts, not mere opinions.

World-renowned epidemiologist Professor Monique Roobol-Bouts from Erasmus University, Rotterdam presented compelling evidence from long-term screening programmes demonstrating 50% falls in PCa mortality.  She also showed how programmes can be constructed to target men at high risk whilst minimising testing for men at low risk, thus reducing to 100 the number of men needed to be screened to save one life.  From this the economic advantage of screening becomes clear.  This strategy has been adopted by the European Urological Association and was presented on 22/1/19 to the European Parliament as a recommendation to establish national PCa screening programmes.

In stark contrast Essex GP Dr Ann Williams’ presentation illustrated the problems facing GPs when a man asks for a PSA test (see Box 2).  It is clear that GPs would be unable to meet the standards required to provide a PCa screening programme, especially within the constraints of 10-minute appointments.

At the Tackle Prostate Cancer conference, a series of presentations dealt with all the current issues surrounding PSA and PCa screening. (Box 2).  Following this a coherent plan emerged to deal with the problem, key to which is a consensus that further screening “research” is unnecessary as the benefits of screening now massively outweigh the harms. For the reasons cited in Box 3, the UK should implement the introduction of a PSA-based screening programme as a national public priority.

Box 1  Participating Organisations

CHAPS Men’s Health Charity
Graham Fulford Charitable Trust
Orchid Male Cancer Charity
Prostate Cancer Research Centre
Prostate Cancer UK
35 Prostate Cancer Patient Support Groups

Box 2     Perceived Problems with PSA-based PCa Screening 

  • PSA is not PCa specific
  • PSA may be negative when PCa is present
  • PSA may be positive when PCa is not present
  • Access to PSA testing is inconsistent
  • PCRMP* does not provide clear guidance on PSA use
  • GP knowledge of PCRMP and counselling is inconsistent
  • Interpretation of PSA results is inconsistent
  • PSA cannot differentiate between aggressive and non-aggressive  PCa
  • GPs receive insufficient urological training in general and PCa training in particular
  • GPs have insufficient time within a 10-minute consultation to counsel men adequately on PSA screening
  • GPs have not been updated on the benefits of PSA screening
  • GPs continue to receive outdated information on the “harms” of PSA screening
  • Screening for common cancers in the UK is organised centrally, unlike for  PCa

 *PCRMP:  Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme

Box 3      Towards Prostate Cancer Screening

  • PSA remains for the foreseeable future the only viable front-line screening test.
  • PSA-based PCa screening programmes from Europe and North America are consistently showing a 50% or more reduction in PCa mortality.
  • The “harm” of over-diagnosis has been largely addressed by use of risk profiling, second line markers and mpMRI prior to any decision on biopsy.
  • The “harm” of over-treatment has been addressed by the introduction and safety of Active Surveillance for low risk PCa.  The current UK over-treatment rate is at least as low as 4%. (5th National Prostate Cancer Audit)
  • There are good screening models available for implementation; we do not have to reinvent the wheel.
  • GPs do not have the training, knowledge, structure or time to implement a screening programme.
  • A screening programme must be centrally organised and run
  • A new “low tec” workforce based on the voluntary sector and current laboratories with specialist urological input is capable of running a PCa screening programme.
  • A risk-based screening programme ensures the right men are tested at the right frequency and over the right periods of time.
  • A risk-based programme ensures costs are minimised and numbers needed to screen to save a life are now reduced to a figure lower than all other cancer screening programmes.
  • The current costs of long-term chemotherapy for advanced disease by far outweigh the costs of a screening service.

Wondering about Active Surveillance? Watch this video

Tackle Partner Member Orchid Male Cancer has produced a well-produced and informative video about Active Surveillance which features former Tackle Chairman Roger Wotton.

More and more men will be being offered Active Surveillance as our ability to classify the aggressiveness of prostate cancer improves even further.

You can watch it here.

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