I had cancer: Ben Stiller reveals he was diagnosed with 'aggressive' form of disease and has had his prostate removed after calling Robert De Niro
- Actor has opened up about his battle with the disease for the first time
- He was diagnosed with 'immediately aggressive' prostate cancer at 48
- The Zoolander star had surgery to remove his prostate and is now clear
- Stiller is married and has two children, aged 11 and 14, with his wife
- Now, he is urging people to get tested for the disease at a younger age
Ben Stiller has revealed he was diagnosed with an 'aggressive' form of cancer two years ago - and secretly had surgery to remove his prostate.
The actor, 50, opened up about his battle with the disease for the first time in an interview on Tuesday's Howard Stern Show.
Stiller, who has a 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son, with wife Christine, said his doctors diagnosed him with 'immediately aggressive' prostate cancer in June 2014 and two months later, he underwent surgery.
By September that year, he was told he was cancer-free.
Now, he is urging men to speak to their doctors about being tested at an earlier age.
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Ben Stiller has revealed he was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago - and secretly had surgery to treat it
'It came out of the blue for me,' Stiller said. 'I had no idea.'
His tumor had been growing for five years, he said, and had he not had a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test done, he wouldn't have realized he had one.
On Tuesday morning, he also took to Twitter to share a blog post opening up about his ordeal and again, urging people to get tested.
'So, I had cancer a couple of years ago and I wanted to talk about it. And the test that saved my life,' he wrote alongside a link to his post on medium.
Stiller described being told about his cancer as like a scene out of a movie.
He said his urologist's voice 'literally faded out like every movie or TV show about a guy being told he had cancer… a classic Walter White moment, except I was me, and no one was filming anything at all.'
On Tuesday morning, Stiller took to Twitter to share a blog post opening up about his ordeal and urging people to get tested earlier
While processing the news, he said he started Googling men who had faced prostate cancer and survived: John Kerry, Jon Torre, Mandy Matinkin and Robert De Niro.
He then called De Niro, his co-star in Meet the Parents.
'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,' he wrote.
'Fortunate because my cancer was detected early enough to treat. And also because my internist gave me a test he didn't have to.
'I got diagnosed with prostate cancer Friday, June 13th, 2014. On September 17th 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.
Stiller called Robert De Niro, his co-star in Meet the Parents (above) after finding out he had survived prostate cancer too
'Taking the PSA test saved my life. Literally. That’s why I am writing this now.'
He added: 'If [his doctor] 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.'
Stiller had his PSA test when he was 46, four years before the American Cancer Society recommends. Many experts say a PSA can do as much harm as good.
He addressed the controversies surrounding the test, saying: 'It is a simple, painless blood test. It is not dangerous in itself in any way.
'If the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) value is elevated in the blood, or levels rise sharply over time, it could indicate the presence of prostate cancer. It is definitely not foolproof.'
AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY'S RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EARLY DETECTION OF PROSTATE CANCER
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends men have a chance to make an informed decision with their doctor about whether to be screened for prostate cancer.
They say the decision should be made after getting information about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of prostate cancer screening.
The discussion about screening should take place at:
- Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years
- Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65)
- Age 40 for men at even higher risk which is those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age
After this discussion, men who want to be screened should be tested with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. The digital rectal exam (DRE) may also be done as a part of screening.
If, after this discussion, a man is unable to decide if testing is right for him, the screening decision can be made by the health care provider, who should take into account the man’s general health preferences and values.
If no prostate cancer is found as a result of screening, the time between future screenings depends on the results of the PSA blood test:
The ACS says because prostate cancer often grows slowly, men without symptoms of prostate cancer who do not have a 10-year life expectancy should not be offered testing since they are not likely to benefit. Overall health status, and not age alone, is important when making decisions about screening.
Even after a decision about testing has been made, the discussion about the pros and cons of testing should be repeated as new information about the benefits and risks of testing becomes available.
Further discussions are also needed to take into account changes in a man’s health, values, and preferences.
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