Albert Square granddad, Stan Carter, has revealed tonight that he’s been wrestling in secret with prostate cancer. In tense scenes, his family learned that Stan, played by actor Timothy West CBE, had kept quiet about being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Our Specialist Nurses have been working closely with EastEnders writers to advise on details of Stan’s storyline. And we believe the story could really help to shine a spotlight on prostate cancer and ensure it is on the political agenda and on the radar of every man.
Owen Sharp, Prostate Cancer UK Chief Executive said: “When EastEnders first hit our screens 30 years ago, prostate cancer just wasn’t talked about. It was a dirty little secret ‘down below’. Treatment options were extremely limited and survival rates were terrible. Things are getting better, but we have a way to go. Some men, like Stan, are still reluctant to talk about prostate cancer, and reach out for help - but the scriptwriters at EastEnders are helping us to break down one the biggest taboos around men’s health.
“Men United, our movement for anyone who believes men are worth fighting for, which is now 200,000 strong, is turning the tables on prostate cancer. The fact that this prime time show has now become part of the drive to wake men up to this often very treatable disease is potentially a massive ‘lifesaver’.”
Although prostate cancer is often symptomless in its early stages, men over 50, Black men, or men with close male relatives who have prostate cancer are all at increased risk. Stan, the father of Danny Dyer’s character, Mick, in the much-loved soap, falls into the over 50 group, and we believe this is a fantastic way to increase understanding of risk.
Owen added: “Being tuned into the disease, and a man’s individual risk, remains a major part of tackling prostate cancer and exposure on EastEnders will get men talking about it - down the pub, with their mates, in the family - and hopefully with their GP. In reality, in the UK, 40,000 men are diagnosed each year, and this brave piece of fiction could well save real men and real lives.”
In tonight’s show, head of the Carter clan, Stan revealed to his devastated family that he had been concealing his illness for years. Stan also admitted that he has turned down treatment.
Our Clinical Lead, Karen Sumpter has been advising EastEnders on Stan’s storyline. SHe said: “Stan's decision to remain silent may seem extreme, but discovering that you have the disease can be hard to come to terms with, and that news is often difficult to share.
“Making decisions about diagnosis and treatment options at such an emotional time can be a struggle too. It is crucial for people to get the information they need, and to feel they are not alone in this. It’s often helpful to talk things through with someone who has been in the same boat. That is why we have built our online community, and a network of men to provide ‘peer support’ across the UK, in addition to our Specialist nurses. Men really don’t need to go it alone – and we hope this storyline will urge them to reach out.
“I think EastEnders has done a fantastic job of presenting the real issues men face, whilst building a believable drama.”
If you’re affected by the issues faced by Stan and his family, please call our specialist nurses on 0800 074 8383. You can also find out more about prostate cancer on our information pages or speak to your GP.