Ken Morley: ‘A solid piece of blood fell into the toilet’ – star on first sign of cancer


The star, who played supermarket boss Reg Holdsworth on Coronation Street and General Leopold von Flockenstuffen in the BBC sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo! in the late 1980s, recently joined forces with The Who and Small Faces drummer Kenney Jones and Star Wars actor Andy Secombe to raise awareness for prostate cancer. The trio are working with Prostate Cancer UK to discuss their own prostate cancer journeys ahead of Father’s Day on June 19. Having battled the condition himself back in 2007 Morley explained that it was during a production of The Rocky Horror Show in London where he first started to notice symptoms.

Speaking on The Sit Down, a series run by Prostate Cancer UK, Morley said: “I went to the loo and a solid piece of blood fell into the toilet and I thought ‘Ah’. So I went to a hospital in Manchester.

“For four years I had this every six months and they couldn’t find anything. It didn’t happen again until it did happen again and then the fateful day when you go in and they say ‘There is no easy way of telling you this Mr Morley but you have got cancer’.

“At that point from the top of my head right through the body to the feet and back up again like a horizontal line, the brain just goes ‘Chunk!’.

“[The doctor] said ‘Are you okay?’ and I said, ‘Well, what does this mean?’”

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Statistics show that more than 47,500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. Although there may not be any signs of the disease for many months, it is critical that it is caught early enough to have successful treatment.

When symptoms do appear, individuals can experience the following:
An increased need to pee
Straining while you pee
A feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied.

Although these symptoms might not indicate cancer, they are often a result of an enlarged prostate, the underlying causes of which should still be checked out professionally.

Morley went on to say that one of the key indicators of his condition was his low prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, which can be monitored through a blood test. However it is important to note that PSA levels alone cannot be used to diagnose cancer. This is because an individual’s PSA can also be raised by other non-cancerous conditions.


“Because my PSA level was very very low they said ‘Well you can watch and wait,’” Morley continued to explain before adding: “And after six months it has gone up from six to 12. The the doctor said ‘Come in and we will take it out.’”
Prostate Cancer UK explains that the surgical removal of the prostate and prostate cancer cells is known as a radical prostatectomy. It is often recommended for individuals whose cancer has not spread outside of their prostate – localised prostate cancer.

As a “major operation” a radical prostatectomy may not be suitable for those who have other health problems, such as heart disease, that would increase the risks involved.

For Morley, the treatment was a success, and it was only after the operation that he learnt just how close he came to having a more severe case of cancer.

He shared: “Afterwards the assistant came around and said ‘It is a good job you came in actually because the cells have just gone into the nerve tissue, so we have cut this out as well.”

From this it is clear that Morley was on the verge of developing locally advanced prostate cancer, which is when cancerous cells start to break out of the prostate into other areas of the body.

Although a radical prostatectomy can also be used to treat this condition, other treatment options also include:

  • External beam radiotherapy with hormone therapy (and sometimes with high dose-rate brachytherapy or permanent seed brachytherapy)
  • Hormone therapy alone
  • Radiotherapy
  • Watchful waiting.

The NHS notes that all treatment options carry the risk of significant side effects, including erectile dysfunction and urinary symptoms, such as needing to use the toilet more urgently or more often.

It is for this reason that individuals are recommended watchful waiting, to delay treatment until there is a risk that the cancer may spread or symptoms have become significantly worse.

Morley commented on these possible risk factors connected to surgery, which he said was the main thing that left people feeling “very nervous” about having the procedure in the first place.

However, newer treatment options such as high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and cryotherapy, aim to reduce these side effects. Some hospitals may even offer them as an alternative to surgery, radiotherapy or hormone therapy.

Urging others to get checked out if they start to notice any strange or new symptoms, Morley finished by saying: “If you have got any ideas that you might have anything wrong don’t muck about, just go in there, get in there straight away.”

For more information Prostate Cancer UK also has a helpline that’s run by specialist nurses, which individuals can call on 0800 074 8383.



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