Prostate overtakes breast as ‘most common cancer’

Prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in England, overtaking breast cancer for the first time, latest figures show.

In 2018 there were nearly 50,000 registered cases – around 8,000 more than in 2017.

Public Health England says it is because more men are getting tested.

And that is thanks to celebrities, like Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull, raising awareness by speaking out about their own experiences.

‘Fry and Turnbull effect’

In 2018, there were 316,680 cancers of any kind diagnosed, the equivalent of 868 cases a day.

Prostate was the most common type – 49,029 cases – followed by breast – 47,476 cases.

Lung and bowel cancers were the next most commonly diagnosed.

Former BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull went public with his prostate cancer diagnosis in March 2018, encouraging others to get tested, saying: “Maybe if I’d got it earlier and stopped it at the prostate, I’d be in a much better state.”

He said his cancer had spread to his bones, including the pelvis and ribs.

TV comedian and presenter Stephen Fry revealed in February 2018 that he was recovering after having prostate cancer surgery, saying it was “thankfully caught in the nick of time”.

According to the head of the NHS, the coverage of Fry and Turnbull’s treatments led to an increase in men getting checked.

Lucy Elliss-Brookes, Head of Cancer Analysis at Public Health England, said: “Our world-leading cancer data is crucial to help us understand the picture of cancer in England, to ensure the right people are getting the right support.

“Although we are seeing a continued rise in cancer diagnoses, it’s encouraging that we are also seeing increases in survival, as well as an overall decrease in emergency diagnoses of cancer.”

Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said it was good news that more people are seeing their doctor to check for cancer.

But she said the increasing numbers came at a time when the NHS and social care services were under pressure, with long waiting times for cancer diagnosis and treatment.

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