Record number of men checked for prostate cancer

Record number of men checked for prostate cancer – as charities credit ‘Bill Turnbull’ effect

  • Data show the number of prostate cancer referrals has risen by 17% in a year
  • READ MORE:  Thousands of patients in England to be first to get new cancer jab

Prostate cancer referrals have reached a record high in the last year thanks to the ‘Bill Turnbull’ effect, a charity has revealed.

New data shows the number of referrals – when a person is sent for extra tests or to a hospital doctor – has risen 17 per cent in the last 12 months.

More than a quarter of a million men were referred for suspected urological cancer in England between March 2022 and February 2023.

And the biggest jump was seen in November, when more than 25,000 men were sent for further checks.

Prostate Cancer UK, who supplied the figures, said they believe the death of ambassador and presenter Bill Turnbull encouraged men to go and get tested.

Prostate Cancer UK, who supplied the figures, said they believe the death of ambassador and presenter Bill Turnbull encouraged men to go and get tested

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of the disease, striking thousands of British and American men every year. It is most prevalent in over-50s and black men

Mr Turnbull, who was diagnosed in 2017, said inspiring men to get tested by publicly revealing his own diagnosis was the ‘one useful thing’ he had done in his life.

He passed away a year ago today, after admitting he was ‘cross with myself’ for not visiting his GP for years.

In the week following his death, over 61,000 people completed the charity’s online risk checker – an increase of 2,500 per cent – to help men understand their risk and decide whether they need a blood test.

The Daily Mail recently relaunched its End the Needless Prostate Deaths campaign in a bid to improve diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer, which kills more than 11,500 men in the UK every year.

‘Bill Turnbull saved my life’

Rod Hartshorne, 56, was diagnosed with prostate cancer after being prompted to go for a check following the death of Bill Turnbull.

Mr Hartshorne, from Ashford in Kent, said his wife had been telling him to make a GP appointment ‘for months’ to get his prostate checked, but it was only when he heard of Mr Turnbull’s passing that he went and booked one.

Rod Hartshorne, 56, was diagnosed with prostate cancer after being motivated to see a GP following the death of Bill Turnbull

‘I’ll be forever grateful that I did, because my PSA levels were really high, and after some more tests I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in September last year,’ he said.

‘Luckily, I was caught early, I had my prostate removed and am now doing really well. It’s so inspiring to hear the impact Bill’s story has had, because I honestly believe Bill Turnbull saved my life and now I want to do whatever I can to help raise awareness like he did.

‘My story shows that you can’t afford to put it off, which is why I’d tell everyone to visit Prostate Cancer UK’s website and take their 30 second risk checker so they can learn more about their risk and what to do about it.’

Laura Kerby, Chief Executive at Prostate Cancer UK, said: ‘It was important to see a reaction after thousands of men missed out on a diagnosis during the pandemic.

‘This huge rise in referrals and treatments is testament to the incredible work done by so many to raise awareness and I thank the NHS staff who are treating more patients than ever before.

‘From inspirational individuals like Bill Turnbull sharing their story to our national campaign with the NHS, the response has been incredible.

‘But we know that there’s more to do, as too many men still being diagnosed too late and some areas of the country recovering more slowly than others.

‘This year, in honour of Bill’s incredible legacy, we’re asking people to ‘Broadcast it like Bill’ and raise awareness of the disease – encouraging as many men as possible to take our 30-second risk checker to learn if they’re at risk, and if so, what they can do about it.’

The latest data shows the pandemic recovery continuing in England with 20,732 referrals for suspected urological cancer in June this year – a 21 per cent increase on the same month in 2019.

Meanwhile there were 6,144 treatments for urological cancer, an increase of 24 per cent.

The charity warned some areas of the country are still lagging behind, with referrals in the Midlands standing at 10 per cent above pre-pandemic levels compared to the national average of 17 per cent.

This reflects a slower recovery and a far lower proportion of men receiving treatment, they said.

Other celebrities who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer include Stephen Fry, who said he was ‘stunned’ after finding out he had the disease in 2018, but recovered because it was spotted early.

Musician Jools Holland revealed last year that he had been successfully treated for prostate cancer after a diagnosis in 2014.

He performed at a concert organised by Prostate Cancer UK alongside Sir Rod Stewart, who was given the all-clear in 2019, two years after diagnosis.

The NHS website says the risk of prostate cancer increases as you age, with most cases developing in men aged 50 or older.

Symptoms can include needing to urinate more often, having to wait longer before you can pass urine, erectile dysfunction, blood in urine, weight loss or any new and unexplained lower back pain.

After discussing symptoms a doctor is likely to ask for a urine sample to be checked for infection and a blood sample to test the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which can be used to diagnose prostate cancer.

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