Ben Stiller reveals prostate cancer diagnosis and hails test for saving his life
Published 04/10/2016 | 16:56
Hollywood star Ben Stiller has revealed he was diagnosed with prostate cancer but is now cancer-free.
The Zoolander star was diagnosed with a growing tumour in 2014 and now wants to share his story in support of the controversial test that saved his life.
In an essay on the website Medium, Stiller described the moment of his diagnosis as "a classic Walter White moment, except I was me, and no one was filming anything at all".
He wrote: " I got diagnosed with prostate cancer Friday, June 13 2014. On September 17 of that year I got a test back telling me I was cancer free. The three months in between were a crazy roller coaster ride with which about 180,000 men a year in America can identify."
He said straight after he was diagnosed he immediately researched high-profile men who had survived and died of the disease.
He added: " 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. And also because my internist gave me a test he didn't have to.
"Taking the PSA test (prostate-specific antigen test) saved my life. Literally. That's why I am writing this now."
Stiller said he was not offering a scientific point of view on the test but said without it he would not have been diagnosed as quickly as he was.
He wrote: " The bottom line for me: I was lucky enough to have a doctor who gave me what they call a "baseline" PSA test when I was about 46. I have no history of prostate cancer in my family and I am not in the high-risk group, being neither - to the best of my knowledge - of African or Scandinavian ancestry. I had no symptoms.
"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.
"If he had waited, as the American Cancer Society recommends, until I was 50, I would not have known I had a growing tumour 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 actor said the test is criticised because it can lead to unnecessary "over-treatment" but argued men should at least be given the option so they stand a chance of early detection.
Angela Culhane, chief executive at Prostate Cancer UK, said: "There are over 300,000 men in the UK who, like Ben Stiller, are living with or after prostate cancer. However, despite the numbers, it's a disease that, due to its nature, is often swept under the carpet. We applaud Ben for his courage in talking openly about his personal experience.
"The disease kills one man every hour in the UK but if it is caught early, it can more often than not be treated successfully, which is why awareness like this is so important. It is crucial for every man to acknowledge the threat that prostate cancer can pose to his life.
"Some men in particular face a higher than average risk and so if you are over 50, black, or have a family history of prostate cancer, it's important that you to speak to your GP about the disease."