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Sunday, 28 April, 2002, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
Steel in prostate cancer call
Mound chamber
Sir David will stand down as presiding officer in 2003
The presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament has backed routine prostate cancer testing for men over 50 after battling against the disease.

Sir David Steel, who has been given a clean bill of health, has vowed to work with cancer charities in education and support for sufferers.

The Liberal Democrat list MSP for the Lothians said the diagnosis of prostate cancer left him "pole axed".

Sir David Steel
Sir David will still undergo checks
He said: "It was a routine blood test by my GP which showed I had prostate cancer.

"Naturally I was pole axed. If he had not done that I would not have known anything was wrong.

"In due course I could have become ill but it might have been too late by then."

Sir David was given the all-clear to return to full-time work by doctors at Edinburgh's Western Infirmary on Thursday following successful radiotherapy treatment.

He said: "The moral of the story is that routine testing for men over 50 is very important."

The most recent figures from 1997 showed that 1,800 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in Scotland that year and 760 died from the disease.

Sir David said he was keen to work with prostate cancer charities to raise funds and help people with the condition get the right support.

'Public education'

He said: "I am so grateful to all the people involved in my treatment. I feel I owe it to them.

"The least I can do is help improve public education on the issue."

The former Liberal Party leader said he found it "annoying" to have to cut back on official duties while he underwent radiotherapy which left him feeling exhausted.

He said: "I felt completely washed out which was very strange for me as I have never really suffered any ill health in my life."

Despite being given a clean bill of health Sir David still has to have check-ups every three months for the next couple of years.

He still intends to step down as Presiding Officer in May 2003 at the Scottish Parliamentary Elections.

See also:

07 Feb 02 | Scotland
Cancer treatment for Sir David
01 Jun 01 | Scotland
Sir David Steel faces cancer surgery
14 Apr 01 | Scotland
Sir David Steel in cancer scare
06 Sep 99 | Scotland
Tabloid bites back at Steel
25 Aug 99 | Scotland
Steel shows his mettle
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