TV presenter Bill Turnbull passed away in August 2022 after a five-year battle with prostate cancer.
His death sparked a record-breaking quarter of a million referrals in England, over the span of just one year.
The 17 per cent uptick in referrals meant that 262,044 men had urological cancer checks in the year since Bill's passing, in a win for prostate cancer awareness.
It led to record breaking numbers of men being treated for the cancer, according to Prostate Cancer UK.
The charity also shared that over 61,000 people completed its online risk checker in the week following Bill’s death – a 2,500 per cent increase on the previous week.
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.
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"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."
Bill served as an ambassador to Prostate Cancer UK after his diagnosis.
To mark a year since his passing on August 31, the charity is asking the nation to ‘Broadcast it like Bill’ and share the simple, 30-second online risk checker.
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It aims to help men understand their likelihood of getting prostate cancer and to decide whether getting a PSA blood test is the right move for them.
A PSA blood test measures your level of prostate specific antigen, a protein produced by prostate cancer cells.
But other prostate problems – including an infection or an enlarged prostate – can cause a rise in levels.
Despite last year's surge in referrals, Laura said there's more to do in raising awareness about the deadly disease.
"Too many men still being diagnosed too late and some areas of the country recovering more slowly than others," she stressed.
“That’s why we need to keep reaching those men who are most at risk of prostate cancer – including men over 50, Black men, and men with a history of prostate cancer in their family."
Data shows that England is making strides following the pandemic, with 20,732 checks for suspected urological cancer and 6,144 treatments recorded in June 2023 alone.
But some areas are still lagging behind – while London topped pre-pandemic referral levels by 22 per cent, the Midlands remains only 10 per cent above, meaning fewer men are receiving treatment.
Early prostate cancer is very treatable, but doesn’t usually have symptoms, which is why Prostate Cancer UK encouraged men to be aware of their risk.
This is higher for men over 50, Black men or those with a family history of the disease.
Changes in the way you urinate could be an early sign, but it could also indicate an enlarged prostate.
Other sings include:
- difficulty starting to urinate or emptying your bladder
- a weak pee flow
- a feeling that your bladder hasn’t emptied properly
- dribbling urine after you finish peeing
- needing to urinate more often than usual, especially at night
- a sudden need to urinate – you may sometimes leak urine before you get to the toilet
Prostate Cancer UK emphasised that you’ll usually only get early symptoms if the cancer grows near your urethra and presses against it, changing the way you wee.
Three men diagnosed with prostate cancer recently shared their experiences with Sun Health.
And aside from Bill, multiple celebrities have spoken out about their diagnosis, including Ian McKellen, Stephen Fry, and Ben Stiller.
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It follows the “extremely exciting” results of a new study, that gave fresh hope about a new screening programme.
University College London showed that a ten-minute MRI scan was far more accurate than the PSA test which is currently the first test GPs use.
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