Cheeky NHS staff have bared all for a naked charity calendar to raise awareness of testicular cancer.
Scores of male colleagues from Wansbeck General Hospital in Ashington, Northumberland, stripped off to encourage men to check themselves each month.
Testicular cancer is one of the most curable and early diagnosis can mean a cure rate of 98%. Yet it is something which is not widely talked about and is often a taboo subject among those it most commonly affects – young men between 15 and 45 years old.
Craig Leathard, charge nurse at Wansbeck General Hospital, who lives in Ashington, has been the driving force behind the calendar campaign.
He said: “There is already widespread awareness amongst women about breast cancer and we wanted to do something to put testicular cancer on the map too – for men it’s just as important for us to check our balls as it is for women to check their breasts.
“If you find a lump or swelling, or notice any change at all downstairs – whether or not it’s painful – then the very best thing you can do is get it checked out by your GP. Please don’t ignore it - testicular cancer is one of the most curable and as men we need to stop being so macho and make sure we check ourselves every month.”
Reception and domestic staff, healthcare assistants, senior nurses, doctors and A&E consultants, all posed for pictures used in the calendar.
Phil Stamp, a consultant in accident and emergency at Wansbeck General Hospital, said: “Testicular cancer commonly affects young blokes and it can be particularly embarrassing for people to talk about it. The calendar is a fun way of raising awareness of the condition.
“If young blokes just happen to glance at the calendar and check themselves then it is worth doing it as early diagnosis of the condition saves lives.”
Builder Stephen Halliburton, from Blyth, Northumberland, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in December 2009 at the age of 45.
He went along to his GP after being prompted by an awareness campaign and discovering a lump in his testicles. He was immediately diagnosed and within five days had an operation to remove the lump.
The father-of-two, who now has the all clear, said: “I think it’s fantastic what the A&E staff are doing. If it wasn’t for an awareness campaign, I would never have checked myself and who knows where I would be now if I hadn’t.”
MP for Wansbeck, Ian Lavery is also supporting the calendar campaign. He said: “I think it is fantastic that so many staff from the Wansbeck A&E team have got behind the campaign to raise awareness of testicular cancer and get across a really important message for men across the North East.”
The naked A&E charity calendar will be sold in Hospital Volunteer Shops at Wansbeck, North Tyneside and Hexham general hospitals, for a minimum donation of £5 which will go towards male cancer charity Orchid and the hospital charity Bright Northumbria to help fund research and care for cancer patients.