Fry helps fight prostate cancer stigma

A spotlight has been thrown onto prostate cancer after Stephen Fry, known by many for his acting, writing, and presenting careers, made public his own experiences with the illness. Prostate cancer is the third biggest cancer killer in the country. Stephen Fry announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer by sharing the news in a short video posted on his Youtube page.

He said: “For the last two months I’ve been in the throes of a rather unwelcome and unexpected adventure.”

After visiting his doctor for a flu jab, a full health check revealed his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were high. An MRA scan confirmed that he had cancer. In battling his disease, Fry had surgery and the doctors were successfully able to remove the prostate and eleven lymph nodes.

Following further medical examination, it turned out that he had a Gleason score of nine, and considering ten is the maximum, this highlighted its aggressive spreading. Fry decided to talk about his diagnosis because rumours had started to spread.

He said: “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.’ 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.”

Fry believes that the early intervention saved his life and urges men of a certain age to get their PSA levels checked.

“I’m bloody lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful people, and I’m lucky to have an immune system, because that’s the real hero,” he added.

Prostate Cancer UK thanked Fry for “speaking about his personal experience” and emphasised the importance of raising awareness of the disease.

Chief Executive at Prostate Cancer UK, Angela Culhane, said: “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. There are over 47,000 men in the UK who, like Stephen Fry, are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. However, despite the numbers it’s a disease that, due to its nature, is often swept under the carpet.

“We salute Stephen for his courage in speaking out about his personal experience and wish him all the very best for his recovery.”

The Norfolk organisation Think Pink & Blue, who have been fundraising for a UEA research project into the cancer, has been supported by Fry. Last month, a Gala dinner was held to raise money for UEA’s work and a study into ovarian cancer at the University of Cambridge. Funding for ovarian and prostate cancer research is far lower than what goes into breast cancer research, prompting charities’ renewed awareness and funding campaigns.

Professor Colin Cooper, the lead researcher in UEA’s research, told the Eastern Daily Press diagnosing the cancer was challenging. He said: “Half a million men across North America and Europe are diagnosed with cancer each year. For a quarter of those men you can tell at the time of diagnosis that it’s going to be an aggressive form. For another quarter, you can tell that it is unlikely to cause any clinical symptoms.

“The problem is, there are a quarter of a million men in the middle who you can’t decipher as having an aggressive or nonaggressive form.”


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December 2021
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