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Record numbers take prostate cancer checks following the death of Bill Turnbull

The BBC newsreader, who died one year ago today, and Stephen Fry are thought to have fuelled the surge by speaking publicly about their diagnoses. Both revealed they had the disease in 2018.

During the week after Mr Turnbull’s death aged 66, 61,000 people used Prostate Cancer UK’s online risk checker – a 2,500 percent increase on the previous week.

And referrals reached an all-time high last November, with 25,000 men sent for further investigation of suspected cancer.

Mr Fry, 66, has narrated a video tribute to Mr Turnbull, describing him as a “broadcasting legend whose ­tireless campaigning for prostate cancer awareness left a lasting legacy for men’s health in the UK”.

He adds: “Let’s honour Bill’s legacy together. Check your risk. Share the risk checker. Save lives.”

Rod Hartshorne says that he owes his life to the late newsreader – after Bill Turnbull’s death pushed him to finally see his doctor.

He took the PSA blood test that revealed he had early-stage cancer despite suffering no symptoms.

Mr Hartshorne said: “My wife had been telling me to make a GP appointment for months.

“I didn’t have symptoms or anything so just kept putting it off and it wasn’t until I heard the sad news about Bill Turnbull that I decided to book it.

“I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.”

Mr Hartshorne, of Ashford, Kent, had his prostate removed and is recovering. He added: “I honestly believe Bill Turnbull saved my life.”

Mr Turnbull once described inspiring men to get tested for prostate cancer as ­the “one useful thing” he had done in his life.

He admitted he was “cross ­­with myself” for not seeing a GP earlier. Prostate Cancer UK and the NHS launched an awareness campaign in February 2022 after analysis suggested 14,000 fewer men had been diagnosed during the pandemic.

More than 75,000 received treatment for urological cancers in the year to February 2023 – up 9 percent on ­pre-pandemic numbers.

Laura Kerby, Prostate Cancer UK chief executive, 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.

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

Referrals in the Midlands are just 10% above pre-Covid levels, while London is 22 percent up. Men who are over the age of 50,
black men and those with a ­family ­history of the disease are most at risk.

By checking their risk and speaking to a GP, they can decide whether to take the PSA blood test which detects signs of
prostate cancer.

Ms Kerby added: “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.”

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