Entertainment & Arts

EastEnders 'breaking cancer taboo' with prostate storyline

EastEnders
Image caption Stan Carter (Timothy West) told his family about his condition in Monday night's episode

EastEnders has been praised for the handling of its prostate cancer storyline.

Prostate Cancer UK has said that the BBC One soap is helping to "break down one of the biggest taboos around men's health".

Viewers discovered on Monday night that Timothy West's character Stan Carter has prostate cancer, after he told his family he had refused treatment for it.

The charity has hailed the plot as a "potential lifesaver".

Owen Sharp, chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK, said: "When EastEnders first hit our screens 30 years ago, prostate cancer just wasn't talked about. It was a dirty little secret 'down below'.

"Treatment options were extremely limited and survival rates were terrible.

"Things are getting better, but we have a way to go. Some men, like Stan, are still reluctant to talk about prostate cancer, and reach out for help."

The charity's Karen Sumpter, who advised the show's writers on the storyline, said they had "done a fantastic job of presenting the real issues men face".

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in UK men, with 40,000 new cases diagnosed every year.

It develops very slowly so there may be no signs of any symptoms for several years.

Earlier this year, EastEnders tackled the subject of breast cancer when Carol Jackson - played by Lindsey Coulson - was diagnosed with the illness.

She was also identified as a carrier of the gene mutation increasing the risk of developing the disease.

Her daughter Sonia tested positive as a carrier, leaving her to consider potentially invasive procedures to prevent the development of breast cancer.

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