Sunday 4 December 2016

Ben Stiller opens up on being diagnosed with prostate cancer at 48

Published 04/10/2016 | 15:58

Ben Stiller. Picture: Matt Crossick/PA Wire
Ben Stiller. Picture: Matt Crossick/PA Wire

Ben Stiller has opened up about being diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago at the age of 48.

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The Emmy winner, now 50, revealed his diagnosis on The Howard Stern Show today and later posted an essay about his experience on Medium.

Actors Ben Stiller (L) and Christine Taylor attend the
Actors Ben Stiller (L) and Christine Taylor attend the "Zoolander 2" World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall on February 9, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

“My urologist segued from talking about how inconvenient it was picking his daughter up at school that morning to dropping a cancer diagnosis on me without missing a beat. Two weeks earlier, I didn’t even have an urologist.”

Stiller was diagnosed in June 2014 and got a ‘cancer-free’ result back just three months later after successful surgery. He said the three months in between were a “rollercoaster”.

“As I learned more about my disease (one of the key learnings is not to Google “people who died of prostate cancer” immediately after being diagnosed with prostate cancer), I was able to wrap my head around the fact that I was incredibly fortunate. Fortunate because my cancer was detected early enough to treat.”

His essay pleads with men to get tested young so that they don’t end up with untreatable cancer later on.

“What I had — and I’m healthy today because of it — was a thoughtful internist who felt like I was around the age to start checking my PSA level, and discussed it with me,” he said.

“If I had waited, as the American Cancer Society recommends, until I was 50, I would not have known I had a growing tumor until two years after I got treated. If he had followed the US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines, I would have never gotten tested at all, and not have known I had cancer until it was way too late to treat successfully.”

The PSA test is a simple blood test which checks if the PSA value is elevated. Its use on young men has been criticised because the data can be interpreted in such a way that encourages doctors to send patients for unnecessary and sometimes dangerous tests. But Stiller believes this needs to be weighed up with cases like his.

“I think men over the age of 40 should have the opportunity to discuss the test with their doctor and learn about it, so they can have the chance to be screened. I count my blessings that I had a doctor who presented me with these options.”

You can read Stiller's full essay here

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