Comedic actor Ben Stiller has revealed that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago. The 50-year-old thanked early detection of the disease for his survival, reports People.
Stiller was interviewed on The Howard Stern Show, where he told host Howard Stern that he was diagnosed with cancer at 48. It came as a complete surprise to Stiller. He said that he started taking Prostate-Specific-Antigen (PSA) tests during annual physical exams when he turned 46. Otherwise, Stiller said he would be walking around with cancer right now. Instead, Ben wants others to know they should get tested on a regular basis.
One of the first things Ben Stiller did when receiving the diagnosis was to Google the term “prostate cancer.” He then used the search engine to look for famous people who had survived, as well as those who died from the disease. In an essay, Stiller writes “one of the key learnings is not to Google ‘people who died of prostate cancer’ immediately after being diagnosed with prostate cancer,” as written in Medium.
Among those Ben found who have successfully beaten prostate cancer are John Kerry, Joe Torre, Mandy Patinkin, and Robert De Niro. Stiller considers himself to be among this group of survivors because of his early detection.
There were some fearful periods for Ben Stiller. After his first PSA test raised suspicion, another one was done six months later. It showed that Stiller’s PSA level had gone even higher. The actor then had an MRI and a biopsy. After that, he received the official diagnosis of prostate cancer from a urologist.
Ben had to wait six more weeks before his scheduled surgery. He said that gave him a lot of time to think about it. His doctor had discussed survival rates with Stiller, as well as the possibilities of incontinence or impotence arising from the cancer.
After surgery, a third PSA test was administered to Stiller. The level had gone down as hoped, and he was on the road to full recovery.
Stiller acknowledged that there is ongoing controversy over taking the PSA test. Some scientists argue that PSA tests can be interpreted wrongly and may cause men to go through unnecessary invasive biopsies or surgeries. But Ben feels that he was lucky to have taken the test, and at an earlier age than the recommended start at 50-years-old. Instead, he thinks all men over 40 should be able to have the option to discuss taking the test with their doctor.
According to Ben, his family did not have a history of prostate cancer. He said the groups with the highest risk of getting it are those from African-American and Scandinavian ancestry.
Over 180,000 men get diagnosed with prostate cancer annually in the United States. One in seven men will reportedly get diagnosed. Of those, it’s estimated that up to 26,000 people will die from it. There are new medical tests that physicians are hoping to have available soon. These tests will aim for more accurate testing than is currently available, according to CNBC. The good news is that when detected early, as in Ben Stiller’s case, the prognosis is good and the cancer is treatable.
Stiller has been involved acting and directing in many movies. His latest released film was Zoolander 2. He recently met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with a petition of more than one million signatures. The petition called for all governments to share responsibility for helping millions of refugees around the world.
Ben Stiller feels lucky to be alive and in good health. He said going through the ordeal of prostate cancer has given him more of an appreciation for life. Now, Ben is hoping that talking about the disease and testing for it publicly will convince patients and their doctors to be more aware of it and at an earlier age.
[Featured Image by Joel Ryan/AP Images]