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What is prostate cancer? Signs and symptoms of Bill Turnbull’s condition

PROSTATE cancer affects thousands of men in the UK every year.

It's the most common cancer in Brit blokes - including TV star Stephen Fry and ex-BBC host Bill Turnbull - and the third deadliest in the UK, but one in three men have no clue when it comes to the disease. These are the symptoms to look out for.

 One in three blokes don't know anything about prostate cancer, the charity Orchid has revealed
One in three blokes don't know anything about prostate cancer, the charity Orchid has revealed

What is prostate cancer?

The prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland, that only men have.

It sits around the urethra - the tube a bloke pees and ejaculates from - between the penis and the bladder.

The main point of the prostate is to produce the fluid which mixes with sperm to create semen - making it pretty vital for reproduction.

But, like all organs in the body, it can be invaded by cancer - when cells in the gland start to grow uncontrollably.

 The prostate is a gland between the penis and the bladder, which only men have
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The prostate is a gland between the penis and the bladder, which only men haveCredit: Alamy

One in eight Brit blokes will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Many will live long lives and not experience too many nasty symptoms.

But in others, their cancer will spread, which is when the disease can turn deadly.

Prostate cancer currently kills 10,900 men-a-year, but Prostate Cancer UK warn that this number could surge to 15,000-a-year by 2026.

 Prostate cancer will affect one in eight Brit blokes in their lifetime
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Prostate cancer will affect one in eight Brit blokes in their lifetimeCredit: Getty Images

Worryingly the majority of men don't know anything about the disease and, of those that do have a shred of a clue, 60 per cent aren't confident naming the signs and symptoms, according to male cancer charity, Orchid.

A survey by the charity revealed men over 45 knew the least about the killer disease and more than half of black African and Caribbean men did not know their ethnicity increased their risk.

Rebecca Porta, Orchid chief executive said: "Too many men are not seeking help and advice early enough.

"If we can tackle this from both sides, by getting many more men and GPs to talk about prostate cancer risk, we can help to improve outcomes in the longer term – both for patients and the health service."

In April 2018, Theresa May set out plans to recruit 40,000 men into research studies to find new treatments and early diagnosis.

The clinical studies will target high risk men over 50, those with a family history of the disease, black men and the overweight.

What are the symptoms every man needs to know?

In most cases, prostate cancer doesn't have any symptoms until the growth is big enough to put pressure on the urethra - that tube you pee through.

Symptoms include:

  • Needing to urinate more often, especially at night
  • Needing to rush to the toilet
  • Difficulty in starting to pee
  • Weak flow
  • Straining and taking a long time while peeing
  • Feeling that your bladder hasn't emptied fully

Many men's prostates get larger as they age because of the non-cancerous conditions, prostate enlargement and benign prostatic hyperplasia.

In fact, these two conditions are more common than prostate cancer - but that doesn't mean the symptoms should be ignored.

The signs that the cancer has SPREAD include bone, back or testicular pain, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.

 Being overweight or obese increases a man's risk of prostate cancer
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Being overweight or obese increases a man's risk of prostate cancerCredit: Getty - Contributor

What causes prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is very common, and the causes are largely unknown.

Most cases occur in men aged 50 or over, while prostate cancer is more common in men of African or Caribbean descent, and less common in Asian guys.

There's also a familial link, so having a dad or brother who had prostate cancer increases your risk.

Recent research suggests obesity increases your risk of prostate cancer, while exercising regularly lowers it.

A high-calcium diet is also thought to increase your risk, while eating cooked tomatoes and Brazil nuts could lower it, but more research is needed into the effect of diet.

And research conducted in Australia suggests drinking just two pints of beer-a-day increases man's risk by a QUARTER.

 Bill Turnbull was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018
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Bill Turnbull was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018Credit: PA:Press Association

How is prostate cancer treated?

Assuming prostate cancer is caught in its early stages, treatment is not normally immediately necessary.

In these cases, doctors have a policy of "watchful waiting".

Treatment includes surgically removing the prostate, radiotherapy and hormone therapy.

One man was cured after being given testosterone in an experimental trial designed to shock tumours to death.

While research suggests antidepressants stop prostate cancer spreading to the bones in 90 per cent of cases.

 Stephen Fry confirmed he spent 12 months battling cancer in secret
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Stephen Fry confirmed he spent 12 months battling cancer in secretCredit: Getty - Contributor

What have Bill Turnbull and Stephen Fry said about having prostate cancer?

Former BBC presenter Bill Turnbull revealed he has prostate cancer in 2018.

The 62-year-old father of three, who joined BBC Breakfast in 2001, said the cancer was found in November 2017 and had spread to his legs, pelvis, hips and ribs.

Speaking to the Radio Times, Turnbull encouraged others to get tested, saying: "Maybe if I'd got it earlier and stopped it at the prostate, I'd be in a much better state."

He said he thought "old age"was the cause for his aches and pains.

In February 2018, Stephen Fry revealed he spent the last 12 months secretly battling prostate cancer.

The TV veteran confirmed he underwent a life-saving operation in January 2018 and is now cancer-free.

Fry, 60, tweeted a 12 minute video, with the caption: "For the last 2 months I’ve been in the throes of a rather unwelcome and unexpected adventure.

"I’m sorry I haven’t felt able to talk about it till now, but here I am explaining what has been going on."

Nearly all prostate cancer treatments come with the unwanted side effects of erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence, which is why many men choose to delay treatment.

The only exception is non-surgical laser treatment, which doesn't cause impotence - but is still in its trial stages.

If the cancer has already spread, it cannot be treated, and medical help is focused on prolonging life and relieving symptoms.

Stephen Fry reveals he has been battling prostate cancer for the last two months
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