Research team says 'talking bollocks' could save your life

Issue date: 18 June 2012

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UWE Bristol Social Marketing Centre, patient support group 'It's in the Bag' and Bristol Testicular Cancer Service based at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre (BHOC) are working in partnership to encourage young male students to get involved in designing a campaign to build awareness of the symptoms of testicular cancer.

Testicular cancer is the most common malignancy in men between the ages of 15 and 35, but if caught early can be treated effectively with surgery alone and even when the disease has spread chemotherapy treatment has resulted in 95% of men diagnosed surviving the disease.

Katie Collins from UWE Bristol is leading the study, 'Talking bollocks with UWE students: co-creating interventions to increase awareness of testicular cancer and intention to self check'.

Katie explains, “We want to understand exactly what young men know about testicular cancer, their attitudes towards examining themselves regularly and how they feel about visiting the doctor. Once we have discovered the extent of knowledge we plan to work with the students on co-creating an awareness campaign targeting UWE students.

“The project will include a survey that will be sent to all male students at UWE, this will be followed up by group discussions to explore various health-related issues.

“The researcher team and 'It's in the Bag' will then work with a group of participating students to devise an effective way of highlighting awareness of symptoms and the importance of self examination.

“The outcomes of these meetings and the findings from the survey will be used as the basis for devising and co-creating a health awareness campaign. This will then be rolled out by UWE Bristol, we hope with the support of the Health Centre and UWE Student Services. It is important that the interventions we devise engage the young men at UWE and this is why student volunteers will be co-creating interventions for their fellow students. ”

Dr David Little, spokesperson for 'It's in the Bag', said, “I was 24 when I was diagnosed with testicular cancer but I am living proof that early diagnosis is crucial. We are very excited to be working with UWE Bristol and the Bristol Cancer Testicular Service on this important project."

Sue Brand Testicular Cancer Specialist Nurse at BHOC and co-founder of 'It's in the Bag', said, “Early detection is vital to ensure timely treatment. We can help men survive this cancer if they know what to look for and when to seek medical advice. This is an exciting project for us and we look forward to working with UWE."

Professor Steve West, UWE Vice Chancellor, is also a testicular cancer survivor, he says, “I would not normally encourage students to 'talk bollocks' but on this occasion I think it is vitally important. I'm very keen that all male students at UWE get involved even if all they do is fill out the survey. I have a personal interest in this project as I was diagnosed aged 44 and early detection and treatment has lead to my survival.

“UWE Bristol is building a reputation for collaborative work on cancer diagnostics, cancer care education and public engagement in cancer issues - this idea for a co-created awareness campaign adds to our growing portfolio of projects helping to fight cancer.”

The project came about as a result of a meeting between Katie Collins and David Little from 'It's in the Bag' at the Men and Cancer conference hosted by UWE Bristol in 2011. 'It's in the Bag' is part of the health charity, Above & Beyond that raises funds for Bristol's nine central hospitals and a patient forum supporting men with testicular cancer within the South West population.

Katie Collins said, “This project is made all the more poignant as it is being funded from the fundraising initiatives and tireless efforts of “It's in the Bag”, whose members are past and present testicular cancer patients. They have entrusted us in working with them in this project and we are committed to spend their hard earned funds very wisely and to best effect for the patients of the present and future.”


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