Former BBC Breakfast host reveals incurable cancer diagnosis

Pablo Tucker
March 7, 2018

Former BBC Breakfast host Bill Turnbull has spoken about the heartbreaking moment he had to tell his children about his prostate cancer diagnosis.

The NHS website says sufferers can live for decades without symptoms or needing treatment - because the disease progresses very slowly.

"It is crucial for every man to acknowledge the threat that prostate cancer can pose to his life". It can be between the size of a walnut or satsuma and runs between the penis and the bladder, and around the urethra (the tube men pee and ejaculate through). Its main job is to help make semen - the fluid that carries sperm.

However, prostate cancer occurs when the cells start to grown in an uncontrolled way. Most importantly, I really do think I've had a wonderful life, with incredible experiences as a reporter and a presenter. Most cases occur in men aged 50 or over, while prostate cancer is more common in men of African or Caribbean descent, and less common in Asian guys.

Prostate cancer: Who is affected?

Furthermore, recent studies show that obesity increases the risk of prostate cancer, while exercising regularly lowers it.


Prostate cancer now kills 10,900 men-a-year and Prostate Cancer UK warn that this number could surge to 15,000-a-year by 2026.

The presenter told Radio Times magazine that he "can't plan beyond 12 years" because the cancer has spread to the bone.

He sought medical attention after suffering from aches and pains he had put down to "old age" which he realised was not to do with prescriptions.

"I thought, now I've got to deal with the future, or having much less of a future than I thought I had", Turnbull said, comparing the experience to having a "dark curtain or a dark cloud coming down".

Bill, 62, was diagnosed in November 2017 and has revealed that since then he has had keyhole kidney operations, hormone injections and chemo sessions, however the disease has already spread to his leg bones, hips, pelvis and ribs.

Prostate Cancer UK's chief executive Angela Culhane said the illness will affect one in eight men in the UK during their lifetime.


The TV veteran confirmed he underwent a life-saving operation in January and is now cancer-free.

"I was not aware that something in fact was going rather wrong inside me".

"I'm sorry I haven't felt able to talk about it till now, but here I am explaining what has been going on".

All treatment options carry the risk of significant side effects, including erectile dysfunction and urinary ncontinence.

The only exception is non-surgical laser treatment, which doesn't cause impotence - but is still in its trial stages.

In later diagnoses, if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, typically the bones, it can not be cured.


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