Kurt Jewson: the selfless selfie that raised mass awareness of prostate cancer
With the overwhelming public response to Kurt Jewson's Facebook photo following prostate cancer treatment, we explain the rarity of the disease in men under 50 and why the symptoms are so difficult to spot.
44-year-old Kurt Jewson's bold Facebook post showing a selfie of his colostomy bag following treatment for prostate cancer has gone viral over the past few days. Hundreds-of-thousands of people have followed the link he posted to our website to find out more about prostate cancer, particularly its signs and symptoms.
The married father, from West Cornwall, wrote: "Why am I posting this? Well, in the summer of 2014 I had blood in my urine. Went to the GP and he said that it was probably just an infection and would clear up. It did. However, it wasn't an infection. It was a symptom of prostate cancer."
It's important to stress that getting prostate cancer under the age of 50 is very rare: only 1% of men diagnosed in 2013 were under 50. Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50 and your risk increases with age. Men with a family history of prostate cancer and Black men are also more at risk of getting prostate cancer. But, as Kurt's story shows, lower risk of prostate cancer does not mean no risk of prostate cancer and it does occur in younger men.
Symptoms often non-existent or vague
But when it comes to warning signs, the truth is it's difficult to say exactly what to look out for. Early prostate cancer doesn’t usually cause any symptoms, and those it does can be vague. Symptoms such as urinary problems, can be mild and happen over many years, and may be a sign of a benign prostate problem rather than prostate cancer.
Even if a man does have prostate cancer, it often grows slowly to start with and may never cause any problems in their lifetime. But some men have prostate cancer that is more aggressive and more likely to spread. This needs treatment to stop it spreading outside the prostate.
See your GP if you have any concerns
Kurt's symptom of blood in his urine isn't a common sign of prostate cancer and is more often associated with other health problems. But if you're experiencing any of the symptoms listed here or you think you may be at risk, go and chat to your GP. They will talk to you about your symptoms and risk of prostate cancer. You may be offered a blood test called a PSA test. On its own, it isn’t a test for prostate cancer but it can tell your doctor whether you might have a problem in your prostate that needs investigating.
Spreading the word
Kurt has been continuing to spread the word following his Facebook post, appearing on a number of national news websites, TV and radio programmes. "I'm pretty bowled over by the response to this," he said. "We've done a good job here guys."
We completely agree.
You can also speak or chat online to our Specialist Nurses if you have any questions about prostate cancer.