West Ham United this week became the first Premier League football club to back Prostate Cancer UK's Awareness Month.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and often there are no signs or symptoms. It's vital men know they can turn to Prostate Cancer UK for support and information.

Hammer's midfielder Matt Taylor said, "It's great that as a club we can support such an important campaign and help to raise awareness amongst an audience that I would imagine is difficult to reach out to. Even if our involvement helps just one of our supporters then it's all been worthwhile."

Owen Sharp, Chief Executive at Prostate Cancer UK, added: "We would really like to thank West Ham United for their support in helping us to raise awareness of prostate cancer. With more than 40,000 being diagnosed with it every year, it's so important that we get more conversations about the disease started, so that men know more about it and get help as quickly as possible. This way, with increased funding into medical research, we'll be helping to reduce the number of men dying from this disease."

What is the prostate?
Only men have a prostate. It sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is the tube men urinate and ejaculate through. The prostate is a gland. Its main job is to make most of the fluid that carries sperm, called semen.

What is prostate cancer?
Normally the growth of all cells is carefully controlled in the body. As cells die, they are replaced in an orderly fashion. Cancer can develop when cells start to grow in an uncontrolled way. If this happens in the prostate, then prostate cancer can develop. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK.

Who is at risk of prostate cancer?
In the UK, 1 in 9 men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives. Prostate cancer mainly affects men over the age of 50 and your risk increases with age. The average age for men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 70 and 74 years. If you are under 50 then your risk of getting prostate cancer is very low - it's possible, but it's rare.

Family history and genetics
Inside every cell of our body is a set of instructions called genes. These are inherited from our parents. Genes control how the body grows, works and what it looks like. Researchers have found some characteristics in genes that might be passed on through your parents and could increase your risk of developing prostate cancer. Only 5 to 10 per cent of prostate cancers are thought to be strongly linked to an inherited risk.

Ethnicity
In the UK, men of black Caribbean or black African descent are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men of the same age. Men of black Caribbean or black African descent might also develop prostate cancer at an earlier age than white men. The reasons for this increased risk are not yet clear but could be due to changes in their genes passed down through the generations.

Lifestyle
No one knows how to prevent prostate cancer, but diet and a healthy lifestyle may be important in protecting against the disease.

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer can grow slowly or very quickly. Most prostate cancer is slow-growing to start with and may never cause any symptoms or problems in a man's lifetime. But some men will have cancer that is more aggressive or 'high risk'. This needs treatment to help prevent or delay it spreading outside the prostate. If a man does have symptoms, such as problems urinating, they might be mild and happen over many years. These symptoms could be caused by other problems such as general aches and pains or arthritis, but it is still a good idea to get them checked out by your GP if you are worried.

If you have any queries about prostate cancer, please call Prostate Cancer UK's confidential Helpline on 0800 074 8383. The helpline, which is staffed by specialist nurses, is open from 10am to 4pm from Monday to Friday and from 7 - 9pm on Wednesdays. Alternatively please visit www.prostatecanceruk.org

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