Ben Stiller has revealed that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago, but after an operation, the actor-director was cancer-free three months later.
The actor discussed his ordeal Tuesday morning on The Howard Stern Show to raise awareness for the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, which some health organizations have called unnecessary. “It’s a very controversial subject, the PSA test,” he said. “But the PSA test is the only early screener for prostate cancer.” His doctor also joined him on the show to discuss how they treated the cancer.
When Stern asked why the actor was just now talking about the diagnosis, Stiller said it was because of the controversy surrounding the test. “I feel like the test saved my life,” he said. When he took it, he discovered that the level was a little high.
Stiller went into greater detail about why he endorses the test in a self-penned essay posted to Medium. “Taking the PSA test saved my life,” he wrote. “Literally. … I am not offering a scientific point of view here, just a personal one, based on my experience. 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.”
The American Cancer Society, he wrote, recommends getting tested for the first time at age 50; two years after he was diagnosed. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends against taking the test at all. “If [my doctor] had followed [its] guidelines, I would … not have known I had cancer until it was way too late to treat successfully.”
In his summary, he wrote that he simply hoped to open up a discussion about the test. “This is a complicated issue, and an evolving one,” he wrote. “But in this imperfect world, I believe the best way to determine a course of action for the most treatable, yet deadly cancer, is to detect it early.”
He echoed that sentiment with Stern. “I think everybody should discuss [the test] with their doctor and have the opportunity to discuss it with their doctor,” he said. “And that’s why I think the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force should change their guideline.”
Stiller also went into detail on his post-surgery sex life with Stern.