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Warm wishes for Stephen Fry after prostate cancer surgery

PUBLISHED: 10:00 24 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:00 24 February 2018

Norwich City V Ipswich Town derby play-off at Carrow Road in 2015. Stephen Fry. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich City V Ipswich Town derby play-off at Carrow Road in 2015. Stephen Fry. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Stephen Fry has received warm wishes from famous fans after he announced he had undergone surgery for prostate cancer in a plea for “men of a certain age” to get themselves tested.

The 60-year-old TV presenter and comic announced on Friday that he had his prostate removed in January and that “it all seemed to go pretty well”.

Football pundit and former England international Gary Lineker told the “delightful man” to stay well, while presenter Les Dennis said he would get a check-up after Fry’s “eloquent” announcement.

John Cleese also asked fans to direct their “prayers” towards his health, while former colleagues at panel show QI also sent their “love and support”.

Fry announced the diagnosis, which came in December, in a video on his website.

“They took the prostate out, they took 11 lymph nodes out, the various bits that were taken out were examined and it turned out I had a Gleason Score of nine. After considering 10 is the maximum, it was clearly an aggressive little bugger,” he said.

Fry also urged older men to get tested for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, which can be indicative of complications.

“I generally felt my life was saved by this early intervention, so I would urge any of you men of a certain age to get your PSA levels checked,” he said.

Prostate Cancer UK praised Fry for “speaking about his personal experience” because “awareness like this is so important”.

The charity’s chief executive, Angela Culhane, said: “We salute Stephen for his courage in speaking out about his personal experience and wish him all the very best for his recovery.

“It is crucial for every man to acknowledge the threat that prostate cancer can pose to his life.

“Some men in particular face a higher than average risk and so if you are over 50, black, or have a family history of prostate cancer, it’s important that you speak to your GP about the disease.

“Anyone with any concerns can speak to Prostate Cancer UK’s specialist nurses on 0800 084 8383 or visit prostatecanceruk.org.”

Everything you need to know about prostate cancer

Stephen Fry has announced he has prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men in the UK.

There are around 40,000 new cases diagnosed every year, but it usually develops slowly so may show no symptoms for many years.

The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis found only in men, which helps to produce semen.

According to NHS Choices, symptoms often only become apparent due to changes to urination, when the prostate is large enough to affect the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis).

An increased need to urinate, straining while urinating and a feeling that the bladder has not fully emptied are all signs to look out for.

The main methods of detecting it are through blood tests, a physical examination of the prostate, or a biopsy.

If detected early and it is not causing symptoms, it may be carefully monitored rather than being treated, as the condition usually progresses very slowly and treatment carries the risk of serious side effects such as erectile dysfunction and incontinence.

Many people live for years without showing symptoms or needing treatment.

Many cases are cured if treatment is chosen, such as by radiotherapy, hormone therapy or surgically removing the prostate - as Fry has had done.

But a lot of men are only diagnosed at a later stage once the cancer has spread and then the prognosis is not so good.

Prostate cancer recently hit the news because it has overtaken breast cancer to become the third biggest cancer killer in the UK, with 11,819 men now dying from it in the UK every year.

But despite this alarming figure, the shift does not represent a worsening situation for prostate cancer and men diagnosed today are two-and-a-half times more likely to live for 10 years or more than if they were diagnosed in 1990.

It is partly because breast cancer death rates have gone down, and also due to an increasing and ageing population that the number of men dying from the disease is rising.

Fry has referred to having a Gleason score of nine, which he said showed the cancer was “clearly an aggressive little bugger”.

This score was devised in the 1960s by pathologist Donald Gleason, with those with lower Gleason scores of (2-4) tending to be less aggressive, and higher scores (7-10) more aggressive.

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