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Blog

Tutu - the great survivor as push for prostate cancer awareness begins

By: stagedoorscribbler - February 5, 2018

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Photograph by Hattie Miles

As a campaign is launched to raise awareness of prostate cancer Archbishop Desmond Tutu who has been battling the disease for 20 year is being held up as a beacon of hope for sufferers. 

The new push aimed at encouraging men to get checked came as it was revealed that prostate cancer had overtaken breast cancer as the third most deadly form of the disease.

In 2015 (the latest figures available) nearly 12,000 men died from prostate cancer across the UK. Only lung and bowel cancer are greater killers.

Even though prostate cancer is easily survivable if spotted early enough, men over 40 - the highest risk group - are notoriously reluctant to seek medical checks. Now in South Africa where similar problems exist and prostate cancer kills one in every 18 men over the age of 40, Archbishop Desmond Tutu is being held up as an example of a long-term survivor. The 86-year-old Nobel laureate was first diagnosed with the disease two decades ago. 

Other prominent South African sufferers have included Tutu’s friend and mentor Nelson Mandela and jazz musician Hugh Masakela who died last month. 

In this country Prostate Cancer UK is campaigning to raise £120 million for research in a bid to halve predicted deaths by 2026.

Much progress has already been made and men are now 2.5 times more likely to live for 10 years after diagnosis than in 1990.

But an ageing population means the death rate continues to rise.The key to progress is of course early detection.

Desmond Tutu was first treated for prostate cancer in 1997 and received further treatment in 1999 and 2014.