The affable former Snooker player Willie Thorne has divulged to the media that he is currently suffering from prostate cancer. It is hoped that the popular BBC snooker commentator and pundit has discovered the cancer at an early enough stage to make a full recovery. Thorne is also believed to have been struggling with a gambling problem in recent times and consequently had attempted suicide only last year.

Thorne to fight the cancer

The 61-year-old Thorne seems determined to battle back, telling reporters that he will "summon the strength and fight." The Leicester celebrity told the Sunday Mirror that he felt "numb with everything that has gone on" after a blood test revealed that he had the cancer.

It seems that the cancer was diagnosed sufficiently early to allow a period of 'active surveillance' to be adopted, involving monitoring the condition over a period of time to see if it worsens and the cancer spreads.

Successful snooker player

During his playing days, Thorne reached a ranking as high as number seven in the mid-1980s and was renowned for his break-building prowess. He did not quite achieve the success in the game, in terms of tournament victories, that his talent perhaps warranted. A much-respected player, he enjoyed a 27-year professional career before deciding to hang his cue up and move full-time into the commentary box.

His moment in the snooker spotlight occurred in 1985 when he won his only ranking event, the Classic.

Perhaps equally as memorable, for alternative reasons, was his loss in the final of the UK Championship in the same year to the ultra-consistent Steve Davis. Thorne had been well in command of the match but then missed a simple blue from off its spot and never recovered his momentum.

Gambling debts spiralled

Thorne's gambling habits are well-documented, having once bet £38,000 on a match involving John Parrott to lose, only for the Liverpudlian to come out on top.

He is also said to have placed as much as £20,000 on the outcome of a horse race in the past.

Contemplated suicide

His gambling debts are thought to have exceeded £1 million, causing the clearly deeply worried star to contemplate suicide last year. His attempt was prevented when his wife, Jill, told police where he was staying, suspecting that something was wrong.

He subsequently declared himself bankrupt and has sought help from a psychiatrist.

Prostate cancer: most common cancer in men

In excess of 40,000 new cases of prostate cancer are currently diagnosed in the United Kingdom every year, making it the most common cancer in men. Generally, the older a person gets, the higher their chances of developing prostate cancer become, with the majority of cases developing in men aged 50 or older.