<p>James Michael Tyler at the launch of Friendsfest in London, 2015</p>

James Michael Tyler at the launch of Friendsfest in London, 2015

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer and how common is it?

Actor James Michael Tyler has died after being diagnosed with the disease in 2018

Sabrina Barr
Monday 25 October 2021 17:13

Tributes have poured in following the death of Friends actor James Michael Tyler, who played the beloved character Gunther.

Fellow cast member Jennifer Aniston, who played Rachel Green, said the show “would not have been the same” without Tyler.

“Thank you for the laughter you brought to the show and to all of our lives. You will be so missed,” she wrote in an Instagram post.

The actor was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2018.

In a statement to the BBC, Tyler’s manager said he had passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles, California.

“The world knew him as Gunther (the seventh Friend)... but Michael’s loved ones knew him as an actor, musician, cancer-awareness advocate, and loving husband. If you met him once you made a friend for life,” the statement said.

“Wanting to help as many people as possible, he bravely shared his story and became a campaigner for those with a prostate to get a... blood test as early as 40-years-old.”

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men in the UK, affecting approximately one in eight men during their lifetime.

While the condition is more likely to affect men over the age of 50, it can be diagnosed at a younger age.

From symptoms to treatment, here's everything you need to know about prostate cancer:

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is a cancer that occurs in the prostate gland, a small gland located at the base of the bladder.

The main function of the prostate gland, a male reproductive organ, is to secrete prostate fluid. Prostate fluid mixes with sperm to create semen.

The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut, but enlarges as men age.

It surrounds the first part of the urethra, the tube which carries urine and semen.

When prostate cancer develops in the prostate gland, this usually occurs in the outer gland cells of the prostate, Cancer Research UK states. These cells are called acinar adenocarcinomas.

Cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to divide and grow uncontrollably.

According to Cancer Research UK, the majority of cases of prostate cancer grow slowly and do not usually spread to other parts of the body.

When prostate cancer has spread to another part of the body, it becomes known as advanced prostate cancer.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of prostate cancer may include needing to urinate more frequently; having to rush to the toilet; straining to urinate; feeling as though your bladder hasn't fully emptied while going to the toilet; and blood in urine or semen, the NHS outlines.

The NHS adds that these symptoms may not necessarily be indicative of prostate cancer.

Older men may experience similar symptoms due to prostate enlargement, which is a non-cancerous condition.

Signs that prostate cancer has spread to other areas of the body may include back, hip or pelvis pain; erectile dysfunction; blood in urine or semen; and unexplained weight loss, Prostate Cancer UK states.

For more information about prostate cancer symptoms, visit the Prostate Cancer UK website here.

What are the causes?

While it's not known what causes prostate cancer, several factors may increase one's risk of developing the condition.

These include being over the age of 50; whether one has a brother or father who developed prostate cancer before turning 60; being overweight; and following an unhealthy diet, the NHS states.

Those of African or African-Caribbean descent may also be at greater risk of being diagnosed with the condition.

How common is it?

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men in the UK, Prostate Cancer UK states.

Around 47,500 men across the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer on an annual basis.

Approximately 35 per cent of new cases of prostate cancer every year are among men aged 75 and over.

Prostate cancer can affect anyone with a prostate gland, which can include men, transgender and non-binary people.

How can it be treated?

Some diagnosed with prostate cancer will not require any treatment at all, the NHS states.

A person's treatment may depend on whether their prostate cancer is localised in the prostate gland or has spread to other parts of the body.

The NHS explains that a patient with cancer should be cared for by a team of specialists, called a multidisciplinary team.

This team of medical professionals may include oncologists, radiographers and specialist nurses, among others.

The NHS adds that treatment for prostate cancer is undertaken to either cure the disease, or control symptoms so that they do not shorten a patient's life expectancy.

Some older men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer may be advised to carry out "watchful waiting", which is when they keep a close eye to see whether or not they develop any progressive cancer symptoms.

They may also be told to do "active surveillance", which involves undergoing tests such as MRI scans and biopsies while avoiding other treatments deemed "unnecessary".

Other treatments that patients diagnosed with prostate cancer may undergo include radical prostatectomy, which is the surgical removal of the prostate gland; radiotherapy; hormone therapy; and chemotherapy.

If a person's prostate cancer has become too advanced, then it may not be able to be cured.

However, treatments such as radiotherapy, hormone treatment and chemotherapy may slow down its progression.

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For more information about prostate cancer treatment options, visit the NHS website here.

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