Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Benedict Smith

Bill Turnbull: Inspiring men to have prostate test ‘the one useful thing I did’

PA Media

Bill Turnbull said inspiring men to get tested for prostate cancer by publicly revealing his own diagnosis was the “one useful thing” he had done in his life.

Turnbull, 66, was diagnosed in 2017 and admitted he was “cross with myself” for the pride he had felt at not visiting a GP in four years.

The former BBC Breakfast and Classic FM broadcaster had prostate tests at the age of 40 and 50 but said the disease had already spread to his bones when he saw a doctor about long-term aches and pains which he had put down to “old age”.

The charity Prostate Cancer UK said the disease kills more than 11,500 men in the UK every year.

– What is prostate cancer?

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland found in men. It sits beneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra and its main function is to produce a thick white fluid that creates semen when mixed with the sperm produced by the testicles.


Prostate cancer means its cells start to divide and grow uncontrollably, sometimes spreading throughout the body.

Roughly one in every eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, according to Prostate Cancer UK, making it the most common male cancer in the UK.

– What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

Symptoms will usually not appear until the cancer is large enough to press against the urethra.

If you find yourself needing to urinate more often, having to wait longer before you can pass urine, or urinating involuntarily after going to the toilet, it is a good idea to get checked by a doctor, although Prostate Cancer UK says it is more likely to be a sign of a very common non-cancerous problem called an enlarged prostate, or another health problem.

Other warning signs include erectile dysfunction, blood in urine, weight loss or any new and unexplained lower back pain.

– Who is most at risk of prostate cancer?

Jools Holland revealed he was successfully treated for prostate cancer (Suzan Moore/PA) (PA Wire)

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

Black men are more likely to be affected, while it is less common among Asians.

Recent research suggests obesity increases the risk.

– How is prostate cancer diagnosed?

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).

A digital rectal examination, when a gloved finger is inserted into the bottom, can be used to examine the prostate.

The GP will assess the risk of prostate cancer based on these tests as well as age, family history and ethnic group.

If a patient is at risk, the NHS website says they should be referred to hospital to discuss the options of further tests which could include an MRI scan or a biopsy.

An MRI scanner (Medical Illustration/NHSGGC/PA) (PA Media)

Men aged 50 can request a PSA test from their GP but the NHS website says there is no national screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK because the test is not always accurate.

– How is prostate cancer treated?

Some people will not require immediate treatment and will be monitored.

This can be because the disease is in its early stages and is not causing symptoms or because it is unlikely to affect their natural lifespan because of their age.

This may include having regular PSA tests, MRI scans and sometimes biopsies to ensure any signs of progression are found as early as possible.

There are two key ways to treat prostate cancer: radiotherapy or surgery to remove the prostate.

Cancer Research UK says more than 85% of men will survive their prostate cancer for five years and almost 80% for 10 years or more.

– Who else has had prostate cancer?

Sir Rod Stewart (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

Musician Jools Holland revealed earlier this 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.

“Guys, you’ve got to really go to the doctor,” Sir Rod urged ahead of his performance.

Stephen Fry said he was “stunned” after finding he had prostate cancer in 2018, but recovered because his disease was spotted early.

In April, former Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal revealed numerous radiation treatments had cured his cancer.

“I had to wait five or six months to see if it had done its job,” he said. “It did.”

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.