Dennis Hopper: The actor’s prostate cancer diagnosis came too late – how to spot disease

Prostate cancer: Dr Philippa Kaye discusses symptoms

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The Hellraiser star’s life had a lot of difficulties. The actor, who was prone to excessive drinking and drug-taking, had five marriages, one of which lasted just eight days. He was also sent to a psychiatric ward in 1984 after experiencing hallucinations.

But in the end, it wasn’t his excess or mental turmoil that killed him, it was prostate cancer that hadn’t been detected until it had become fatal.

A year before his death in 2010, Hopper was seen by doctors for his flu-like symptoms.

But it was too late. Shortly after, doctors realised he had an incurable, metastasised prostate cancer that he was soon treated for with chemotherapy.

The star died at his home in Venice, California, surrounded by friends and family, an announcement revealed at the time.

Prostate cancer can be hard to detect as there are no visible symptoms of the condition until it has grown.

But if it is found early, it is “very treatable”, according to Prostate Cancer UK.

When it reaches stage 4, meaning that it has broken away from the prostate area and spread elsewhere around the body the risk of dying is a lot higher.

The five-year survival rate is roughly 28 percent.

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However, if it is found early the chances of survival are higher. Prostate cancers are often found using a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test which you can ask your doctor for.

Hopper’s cancer was only announced publicly in a court hearing for his fifth marriage with Victoria Duffy.

According to court documents, the star was too weak and ill to be challenged about the divorce.

Before he died, Hopper filed a divorce around the type of separation and claimed that the relationship was threatening his life.

His doctor, Doctor Angus said in court: “The presence of his estranged wife is hampering Mr. Hopper’s present cancer care as she introduces significant additional stress into his life.

“The less Mr. Hopper has to do with his estranged wife at this time, the more likely he is to have his life extended.”

His lawyer and doctor even argued that the stress of extensive court proceedings could kill him.

According to Doctor Suzanne Conzen and researcher for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, “everybody has an individual response to stress”.

On the Prostate Cancer Foundation website, she explained: “it’s not so much the stress itself but the physiological response that can take a toll, and that may hinder our ability to fight cancer.”

The high cortisol and adrenaline levels, which are released in the adrenal glands, that come with stress can affect the normal function of the immune system.

Doctor Conzen explained that high levels of stress are “probably not a good thing” for men with prostate cancer because there is a specific protein receptor, called the glucocorticoid receptor that is turned on by cortisol.

According to the Mayo Clinic, more advanced prostate cancer may cause the following signs and symptoms:Trouble urinating

  • Decreased force in the stream of urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Blood in the semen
  • Bone pain
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Erectile dysfunction.

If you’re aged 50 or over and decide to have your PSA levels tested after talking to a GP, they can arrange for it to be carried out free on the NHS,” the NHS states.

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