NHS England celebrates the Fry and Turnbull effect on prostate cancer

National treasure Stephen Fry and former BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull have become celebrity influencers in the fight against prostate cancer, according to NHS England.

The so called 'Fry and Turnbull effect' has had a positive impact on people seeking information about prostate cancer (pic credit Jeff Spicer/Getty Images & HGL/GC Images)
The pair are owed "a debt of gratitude" for raising awareness of prostate cancer after they were both diagnosed with it earlier this year.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said last week: "A debt of gratitude is owed to Bill Turnbull and Stephen Fry for the work they have done to urge men to seek medical advice if they think something isn’t right."   

Fry and Turnbull have both spoken publicly about their prostate cancer diagnoses.

Fry revealed in February, during a lengthy v-log on his personal website, that he had been diagnosed and then treated for prostate cancer and was now in a period of recovery.

During the film, which has been viewed nearly two million times on YouTube, he explained how his doctor discovered the condition during a routine check-up as well as the treatment he received.

The following month, Turnbull posted on Twitter to say that he had been diagnosed with prostate and bone cancer and was currently undergoing chemotherapy.

NHS England believes that the presenters speaking out about prostate cancer contributed to a 250 per cent increase in visits to its online advice page about the condition in March. 

It said that there was also a 36 per cent increase in patients receiving treatment for urological cancer between April and July this year, compared with the same time-period in 2017.   
Nearly 12,000 people died from prostate cancer in the latest year for which figures are available and Stevens announced last week that £10m of additional funding would be made available to increase the capacity of hospitals to provide treatment.

In response to coverage of the ‘Fry and Turnbull effect’, Fry tweeted his thanks to the medical staff, who "perform miracles for us all".

Alice Law, senior media manager at NHS England, told PRWeek: "Early cancer diagnosis is a key priority for the NHS which is why we support campaigns and try to secure media coverage on the issue. After Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull spoke out about their diagnosis, activity across the prostate cancer pages on the NHS website spiked, as did the number of people going to their GP and starting treatment." 

Law added: "We know celebrities can get cut through for important health messages and we’re grateful for the work Stephen and Bill have done to encourage more men to come forward for checks."

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