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Bill Turnbull reveals update on cancer treatment: ‘we’re at a stalemate’

The former BBC Breakfast host found out he had prostate cancer while filming The Great Celebrity Bake Off

Olivia Petter
Tuesday 16 October 2018 09:08 BST
(Rex Features)

Bill Turnbull has spoken out about the intense treatment he has undergone for prostate cancer, after the former BBC Breakfast presenter first opened up about his diagnosis in March 2018.

The 62-year-old broadcaster explained how he asked his doctor to stop treating him with chemotherapy after eight rounds, claiming he “couldn’t bear it any longer.

“It felt as if the chemo was now taking on a character of its own, like some malevolent gremlin,” he told the Radio Times.

After a ninth round of chemotherapy, Turnbull reveals he “called it a day” and explained how the cancer has now stopped spreading throughout his body, though it hasn’t gone completely.

“We’re at a stalemate,” he said, adding that his doctor has given him a few months off treatment altogether to see how his condition fares.

Turnbull was diagnosed with prostate cancer while filming The Great Celebrity Bake Off, a charity version of the original series which raises funds for the Stand Up To Cancer fundraiser.

The Classic FM host described living with the disease as “relentlessly boring.

“You go to bed at night thinking about it, and it’s still there when you wake up,” he said.

“It’s there all day, every day – a fact of life you have to get used to. And it’s a massive pain in the backside.”

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the UK, with approximately 47,200 new cases in 2015, according to Cancer Research UK.

Recent figures revealed that the number of men dying from prostate cancer has now overtaken female deaths from breast cancer in the UK.

According to the charity Prostate Cancer UK, Turnbull’s efforts to speak publicly about his diagnosis - which he revealed in an article published by Radio Times in March - has had a significant effect on the number of men seeking support for the condition.

“Awareness of prostate cancer is increasing and more men are having potentially lifesaving conversations with their GP, coming to us for more information and spreading the word,” said Angela Culhane, chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK.

“In the meantime, being aware of his risk is a man’s greatest defence against prostate cancer. Men over 50, black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer are at higher risk and should speak to their GP.”

Turnbull isn't the only famous face whose prostate cancer diagnosis is having a positive impact.

Stephen Fry, who was diagnosed with the disease earlier this year, has also been incredibly forthcoming, opening up about his treatment in a clip posted on YouTube February.

Dubbed the "Fry and Turnbull effect", NHS chief Simon Stevens has thanked both men for their efforts, saying they were "owed a debt of gratitude".

Prostate cancer doesn't typically result in symptoms until the cancer has developed to a point where it has grown large enough to put pressure on the urethra.

According to the NHS, these can include difficulty urinating, needing to urinate more frequently and blood in urine and/or semen.

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