Sir Rod Stewart has revealed he recently had the all-clear for prostate cancer after battling the illness in secret for around two years.
The ‘Maggie May’ singer, 74, decided to open up about his diagnosis and subsequent treatment during a fundraising event for the Prostate Project and European Tour Foundation charity in Surrey this weekend.
“Two years ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer,” he told the audience, according to the Daily Mirror. “No one knows this, but I thought this was about time I told everybody.
“I’m in the clear now, simply because I caught it early. I have so many tests.”
The rock legend went on to urge other men to get checked out early.
“Guys, you’ve got to really go to the doctor,” he told the men in the audience. “Finger up the bum, no harm done.”
Here’s what people need to know about the condition.
What is prostate cancer?
According to Prostate Cancer UK, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, and it’s estimated that by 2030, prostate cancer will be the most commonly diagnosed cancer overall.
One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, but this figure rises to one in four for black men.
More than 11,500 men die from prostate cancer in the UK each year – that's one man every 45 minutes.
“Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer amongst men in the UK,” says Paul Erotocritou, consultant urologist at BMI King’s Oak Hospital in North London.
“Most cases develop in men aged over 65, though younger men can get prostate cancer too.”
Though it isn’t known exactly what causes prostate cancer, Erotocritou says that the condition is more common in African-Caribbean and African men and less common in Asian men. Men with immediate relatives who have it are also slightly more likely to have it themselves.
And it’s not just men: anyone with a prostate can get prostate cancer, which means that trans women, nonbinary male-assigned people and some intersex people are also at risk.
What is the prostate?
The prostate is a gland and its main job is to help make semen, Prostate Cancer UK explains.
It’s about the size and shape of a walnut and sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine out of the body.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer tends to develop slowly, so its symptoms may not show for many years, and might never cause any problems in your lifetime, says Erotocritou.
“However, some men have cancer that is more aggressive. This will need treatment to stop the disease or at least delay the cancer spreading outside the prostate gland,” he says.
According to Erotocritou, the signs of prostate cancer often only become noticeable when the prostate is enlarged enough to affect the urethra – the tube carrying urine from the bladder to the penis.
“This means you might notice things like a greater need or effort to urinate, and then a feeling your bladder hasn’t properly emptied,” he says.
But these signs don’t necessarily mean you have prostate cancer.
“They could be caused by something else, like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) – where the prostate is enlarged but not affected by cancer.”
For some men the first symptoms of prostate cancer are when it has spread beyond the prostate gland to the bones.
“This may cause symptoms such as back, hip or pelvic pain – but again this could be caused by benign conditions such as arthritis,” Erotocritou says.
Whatever pain, discomfort or symptoms you feel, it is always best to discuss these with your GP.
Risk of prostate cancer
According to Prostate Cancer UK, people need to know if they are at higher risk of prostate cancer and, if so, consider talking to their GP.
It mainly affects men over 50, and risk increases with age. But as mentioned, the risk is higher for black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer.
Such men may want to speak to their GP about PSA testing (see below) from the age of 45.
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
Erotocritou says GPs can use a number of tests.
“A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test detects whether there is a rise of the PSA protein in the blood that might indicate prostate cancer,” he says.
“There is also a urine test to detect whether an enlarged prostate might actually be an inflammation of the gland.
“Your GP may also be able to feel an enlarged prostate through the wall of the bowel.”
Further hospital tests may include more advanced tests such as a prostate biopsy, MRI, CT or ultrasound scan, or prostate mapping.
Back in June scientists revealed that men could soon be offered a new one-off prostate cancer test that could detect whether they are likely to develop a dangerous form of the disease.
Experts say men could be offered one scan between the age of 55 and 60 and be given “peace of mind” for the rest of their life.
The 10-minute scan, which could be potentially rolled out in supermarkets and shopping centres, detects dangerous cancers years before they cause any harm while ignoring growths that don’t pose a threat.
Treatments for prostate cancer
If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, there are several possible treatments available, including monitoring a slow-spreading cancer, radiotherapy, hormone therapy and removal of the gland.
“It’s best to discuss treatments and side effects with your doctor,” says Erotocritou.
A new treatment called Rezum is also currently being trialled at one West Sussex hospital.
“This uses steam to trim excessive prostate growth and drastically reduces side-effects of impotence and incontinence which are sometimes associated with more traditional surgery,” says Simon Woodhams, consultant urologist at BMI Goring Hall Hospital in West Sussex.
The procedure is performed by a consultant urologist who uses a handheld device to deliver small injections of steam through the urethra into the surrounding prostate tissue.
“This helps to shrink the enlarged gland by causing the obstructive prostate tissue to die,” says Woodhams.
Anyone with concerns about prostate cancer can contact Prostate Cancer UK's specialist nurses in confidence on 0800 074 8383 or online via the Live Chat instant messaging service at www.prostatecanceruk.org.
The specialist nurse phone service is free to landlines and open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, with late opening until 8pm on Wednesdays.