THE 1950s, the start of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, really are another world away. Back then, the British people did not know that their king, George VI, had cancer. They did not know that he’d had a large chunk of diseased lung removed.

Seventy-five years later, his grandson, Charles III, has revealed to the world he has cancer.

The disease is no longer an automatic death sentence, as it was in George VI’s day, and the miracles of modern medicine are such that 50 per cent of people diagnosed with cancer survive for 10 or more years, and the survival rates have doubled in the last 50 years.

It is good that the King has revealed the truth. His openness about his prostate problem boosted public awareness of that issue immeasurably and by being open about his cancer, it is to be hoped that he can remove the fear that afflicts so many people at the mere mention of the dreaded word.

Perhaps in this time of 24-hour monitoring, it would have been impossible for him to have kept it secret; perhaps there is an argument that he should reveal the type of cancer he has – after all, there is nothing to be ashamed of, and it would certainly end all the speculation.

It is to be hoped that some good will come out of the King’s condition in pulling away the shroud of fear that surrounds the disease.

Perhaps a glimpse of his mortality will remind his sons, William and Harry, that they need a relationship built on support rather than feuds.

And perhaps a renewed spotlight on cancer will make us ask why, according to Cancer Research, the five year survival rate for both men and women is below the European average.