Jeffrey Archer reveals battle with prostate cancer

Novelist describes 'short, sharp shock' of four-hour operation following diagnosis last year

The novelist and former MP Jeffrey Archer has revealed that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer late last year.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday over the weekend, Archer said that, after a blood test showed a "slightly" high Prostate Specific Antigen level, and a subsequent biopsy, he was given the diagnosis by his doctor at Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge. He chose to have an operation in which the whole prostate and the cancer would be removed, rather than go through radiotherapy, said Archer, preferring "a short, sharp shock rather than a longer-term experience with repeated hospital visits".

"The other major difference between operation or radiotherapy is the effect it may have on your sex life. If you have the operation, you will become infertile," wrote the author. "So if you still want children (not a problem for me at the age of 74), you will have to opt for radiotherapy. You may also become impotent, though with the help of Viagra you can still experience the same sensation."

Warning "the squeamish to turn the page", the bestselling novelist went on to write of his four-hour operation, his experience wearing a catheter and a bag for a week, and his subsequent temporary incontinence.

"For a week I had been peeing happily away, like a child, not giving a great deal of thought to it, so the brain and body had already accommodated themselves to a new routine, which they were quite happy to continue without consulting me," wrote Archer.

"For the next seven days, you become a baby again and need to wear a large nappy to make sure that if you can't get to the loo in time you won't water the carpet and everything else on the way. And just like a child, you have to learn to control yourself. For this you need another specialist, a physiotherapist, who will teach you to do exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor – a part of my anatomy I didn't know existed until then."

Archer, who published his first novel, Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less, in 1975, said he had since joined Men United, the prostate cancer charity, and was "proud to support Prostate Cancer UK, because if I die before the age of 88, the diagnosis won't be prostate cancer".


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

McCrum on Jeffrey Archer
Review: The Eleventh Commandment

Robert McCrum

17, May, 1998 @3:54 PM

Article image
Best Kept Secret by Jeffrey Archer – digested read
John Crace reduces Jeffrey's latest collection of cliffhangers, twists and Nazi fivers to a more manageable 600 words

John Crace

01, Mar, 2013 @7:30 PM

Observer review: The Nose by Elena Lappin

Elena Lappin traps a story of dreadful secrets inside one of a perky young journalist in The Nose.

Adam Mars-Jones

05, Aug, 2001 @1:56 PM

Article image
Cometh the Hour by Jeffrey Archer – digested
John Crace reduces a sprawling tale of high-stakes international intrigue and romance to juicy, bite-size chunks

John Crace

20, Mar, 2016 @4:00 PM

Jeffrey Archer

"If you are lucky enough to have that gift - to tell a story, to tell a tale - that's just luck. You can't go down to Marks and Spencer and say 'I'll have a packet of stories please'."

22, Jul, 2008 @2:40 PM

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer – review
By Jane Housham

18, Oct, 2011 @9:20 AM

Theatre: Defending Jeffrey . . . ?

Defending Jeffrey . . . ?
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

Alfred Hickling

05, Apr, 2001 @11:00 PM

A tale of two cons: Jeffrey Archer
The millions, the mansion, the penthouse - Jeffrey Archer returns to his old world.

Oliver Burkeman

22, Jul, 2003 @9:26 AM

Article image
John Crace's digested read: False Impression by Jeffrey Archer

Few suspected that behind Fenton's facade as a respected banker lay one of Ceausescu's most loyal cronies who had amassed a fabulous horde of impressionist art by getting rich collectors to borrow money at ridiculous rates of interest and then killing them.

John Crace

06, Mar, 2006 @9:49 AM

My other life: Jeffrey Archer

Writers reveal their fantasy career

15, Mar, 2009 @12:01 AM