Stephen Fry’s prostate cancer announcement has led to a surge in people being diagnosed

Stephen Fry

Prostate cancer has now overtaken breast cancer as the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in England, thanks in part to Stephen Fry going public with his own diagnosis.

The actor, author, comic, LGBT+ activist and all-round British national treasure significantly boosted awareness of the disease after speaking out about his own experience in February 2018.

The 60-year-old revealed the news in a 12-minute YouTube video in which he described the illness as an “unwelcome and unexpected adventure.”

“Cancer is a word that rings in your head. ‘I’ve got cancer,’ I kept saying to myself, good heavens. You’re not supposed to get cancer,” he said.

“I know it’s a cliché but you don’t think it’s going to happen to you, cancer is something that happens to other people.”

Stephen Fry went on to detail the treatment he went through and urged “men of a certain age” to get their PSA levels checked, adding that his doctors believed the early intervention had saved his life. He is now happily cancer-free.

The announcement triggered a surge in people getting tested, which has been dubbed the ‘Fry and Turnbull effect’, after Fry and the former BBC presenter Bill Turnbull who also went public with his diagnosis in 2018.

According to the latest figures from Public Health England, there were nearly 50,000 registered cases of prostate cancer in 2018 – around 8,000 more than in 2017.

The rise in early diagnosis is likely to save lives as the disease is increasingly being detected at an early stage.

In October 2018, NHS chief Simon Stevens thanked Fry and Turnbull for coming forward and speaking about their experiences of prostate cancer, saying that they were “owed a debt of gratitude.”

Symptoms of prostate cancer

Anyone with a prostate can get prostate cancer, although people assigned male at birth who are over the age of 50 are at greater risk. It is also more likely in the black community.

The cancer normally has no symptoms in its early stages, but you should go to the doctor if you experience the following:

  • needing to urinate more often, especially at night
  • needing to run to the toilet
  • difficulty in starting to urinate
  • weak urine flow or taking a long time while urinating
  • feeling your bladder has not emptied fully


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