31 Aug 2023

Prostate cancer referrals hit a record high thanks to Bill Turnbull’s legacy

The awareness raised by the beloved broadcaster in life and in death, as well as your support for our ‘Find the 14,000 men’ campaign with the NHS, has driven a massive increase in referrals and treatment of the most common cancer in men. 

New data released today (31 August) , shows urological cancer referrals in England are up 17% to a record-breaking quarter of a million (262,044). That’s thousands more fathers, sons, brothers and mates speaking to their GP about their prostate cancer risk and making informed choices.


Prostate cancer diagnosis was badly hit by Covid-19, but thanks to our nationwide campaign with the NHS, and your efforts sharing the risk checker with the men in your lives, we’ve begun to tackle the pandemic backlog. 

The numbers also highlight the impact and legacy of our ambassador and friend, Bill Turnbull, the legendary broadcaster who passed away from the disease one year ago today. In the week following his death, over 61,000 people took our 30-second risk checker – a 2,500% increase on the previous week. And three months later, in November 2022, referrals and treatments surged to an all-time high.  

Bill’s diagnosis in 2018 came too late for a cure, but in the following five years he built a life-saving legacy raising vital awareness of the most common cancer in men and funds to support research into early diagnosis. His message was simple: “Don’t wait like I did – check your risk.” 

Let’s honour Bill’s legacy together. Let’s get men across the UK to check their risk, and helped thousands get an early diagnosis that could save or extend their lives. Let’s #BroadcastItLikeBill: Check your risk. Share the risk checker. Save lives.  

One man who is testament to Bill’s life-saving legacy is 53-year-old Nick Whight, from Bromley. Nick was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018 after hearing about Bill’s diagnosis on BBC Breakfast. 

“I often describe myself as one of Bill Turnbull’s ‘cohort’ of men and thanks to him I was diagnosed in time to make a full recovery from prostate cancer,” Nick says.  

“I knew I wanted to give back, which is why I’m supporting Prostate Cancer UK’s latest campaign to raise awareness and honour Bill’s incredible legacy. I’ve also signed up to take part in Jeff Stelling’s Football March this September – I’d really wanted to take on a physical challenge and to help raise funds for the charity, so it was just perfect timing for me.” 

“I often describe myself as one of Bill Turnbull’s ‘cohort’ of men and thanks to him I was diagnosed in time to make a full recovery.”
Nick Whight Supporter

Our 30-second risk checker has been used by over 1.5 million people since its launch in 2020 and has helped us get prostate cancer referrals back to, and above, pre-pandemic levels. 

However, as you may have heard back in January, there are still some areas of the country being left behind in a “postcode lottery”. Men in London still have a far better chance of receiving an early diagnosis in comparison to men in the Midlands. Referrals in London are now 22% above pre-pandemic levels, while in the Midlands this figure sits at just 10%. 

Our Chief Executive, Laura Kerby, says: “We know that there’s more to do, as too many men are still being diagnosed too late and some areas of the country are recovering more slowly than others.  

“That’s why we need to keep reaching those men who are most at risk of prostate cancer – including men over 50, Black men, and men with a history of prostate cancer in their family.” 

Early-stage prostate cancer is curable, but doesn’t usually have symptoms, which is why it’s so important to be aware of your risk.  

Thank you for your continued support and for helping us continue Bill’s life-saving legacy. 

Broadcast it like Bill. Share the risk checker with family, with friends, and help us share it across the UK by sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

201910 Nurses Staff

Our Specialist Nurses

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