Tuesday 26 March 2019

'My life was saved' - Actor Stephen Fry confirms he is 'fit and well' after prostate cancer

Stephen Fry. Photo: YouTube
Stephen Fry. Photo: YouTube
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Actor and writer Stephen Fry has announced that he has recovered from prostate cancer after undergoing surgery.

The 61-year-old spoke to a medical journal, Nature, to say his story is no different from that of "thousands and thousands of men every year in the UK alone."

Fry wrote about his experience of diagnosis and treatment alongside his surgeon Ben Challacombe.

Challacombe said: "When Stephen Fry first walked into my consulting room I’m not sure who was more nervous about what lay ahead; probably me".

Now recovered, Fry had previously posted a video on his website last year to tell fans that he is now "fit and well and happy".

His cancer was discovered when he went to his doctor to get the flu jab, he said, and decided to have a general “MOT” check-up as well.

“I had my blood taken and urine and blood pressure... I didn’t think much more of it really. Then the next day he called me up and he said I’m a little worried about your PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) levels.”

“These are things that the prostate give out if it’s under attack from some sort of tumour and you’re supposed to get them checked every year.”

An MRI and PET scan confirmed that Fry’s PSA levels were raised, as did a biopsy, which he described as difficult.

“It’s all very personal and undignified, this story, so I may as well bite the bullet and come clean with you. It was a trans rectoral biopsy so some sort of thing went up and took a clip of living tissue from the prostate. It’s not an experience I’d recommend to my worst enemy really, very unpleasant.”

Though doctors found that the cancer hadn’t spread, it was present in one of his lymph nodes. So after discussing his options with his doctors, Fry said he decided not to undergo radiotherapy and instead chose surgery because of the fact that the cancer was present in a lymph node.

“[Radiotherapy is] a very long and difficult process. I mean, it’s fine for some people but there are a number of issues with it for me... You have to weigh these things up.”

“They took out the prostate; they took out eleven lymph nodes. The various bits that were taken out were examined and then it was discovered that I had in fact a Gleeson score (the scale for measuring prostate cancers) of 9, and 10 is the maximum. This was clearly a rather aggressive little bugger.”

He added: “It isn’t always necessary to have it out in the way that I had it out. I’m not saying that that’s of course always the answer. The answer is to discuss these things with your doctor.”

Fry said he needed time out over the past six weeks to recover after the surgery.

“It’s a bit like being stabbed five times... to the body it’s the same rather traumatic effect and you think you’re going to recover really well but it takes you longer than it might, and it’s all rather undignified and unfortunate.”

“My family and my divine and darling husband were just marvellous, and those few friends that have known have been very discreet and kind about it, because you know, cancer, in the end, that’s the word that just rings in your head. ‘I’ve got cancer’.”

“I know it’s an old cliché but you don’t think it’s going to happen to you. Cancer is something that happens to other people.”

“It’s one of those shocking, hard, difficult words.”

One in eight men will get prostate cancer at some time in their lives, Fry said.

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