Ben Stiller made public on Tuesday that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago, at the age of 48. The actor had surgery to treat the aggressive tumor. Luckily, Stiller has been cancer-free since.

Stiller, 50, made the announcement on Tuesday’s Howard Stern Show alongside his surgeon Dr. Edward Schaeffer. The actor-director confessed how he dealt with cancer and how he is urging young men to go to the doctor and get checked for the disease. Guidelines recommend that men should begin  screening at age 50 if there is no cancer history in the family. Stiller was diagnosed at the age of 48 and had been tested since he was 46 years old. 

Ben Stiller
Ben Stiller has announced he was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 48. Image credit: AP Photo/Abraham Caro Marin.

Stiller: ‘Taking the PSA test saved my life’

Stiller started taking the PSA test since 2012, even when he had no cancer history in his family and had no symptoms. The PSA is a blood test for the prostate-specific antigen.

The American Cancer Society reports that the test can detect the antigen in semen and blood. Antigen levels must be under four nanograms to be cancer-free. If levels get to four or higher, the patient needs to visit a urologist.

That was Stiller’s internist recommendation. The actor visited a urologist and then searched for different opinions on whether he had to get surgery or not. He even consulted with Robert De Niro’s physician. The famous actor also had the same disease.

Stiller’s tumor had to be removed because it was “mid-range aggressive” and doctors would not risk its spreading by avoiding surgery. The actor visited the operating room to have a robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy. Dr. Schaeffer got all the cancer, and the actor has not known about cancer since 2014.

After two years cancer free, Stiller continues to get a PSA test every six months to make sure the cancer has been put down. He knows he is lucky enough to have discovered it in its early stage so he could fight it and now he desires to spread the word on how to prevent the disease.

The prostate cancer high-risk group includes Afro-Descendants and people with Scandinavian ancestry, and Stiller had no close relatives with those genes. Still, even without no cancer history on the family, the actor was diagnosed with that type of cancer.

Stiller criticizes the American Cancer Society recommendations because if his doctor would have followed them, he would have discovered the tumor two years later, and maybe he would not be alive to tell the story.

Stiller posted an essay on Medium after the Stern show, where he tells his experience at fighting the disease.

“What I had 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 tumor until two years after I got treated. If he had followed the U.S. 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 wrote in his essay.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter