Ben Stiller counts himself as one of more than 180,000 American men battling prostate cancer every year.
During a recent visit to “The Howard Stern Show,” the actor went public with his diagnosis of a “mid-range aggressive” form of prostate cancer in 2014.
Thankfully, Stiller, who was 48 at the time, has been cancer-free for two years after a successful surgery to remove the prostate. Now, he’s made it his mission to educate people about how to effectively detect the disease.
“It came out of the blue for me,” Stiller said. “I had no idea.”
The “Zoolander” actor and his surgeon appeared on the radio show to praise the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test, which helps indicate the presence of prostate-cancer-related antigens in the blood.
In an accompanying essay originally published on Medium, Stiller explained how the screening was instrumental after his initial diagnosis, which placed him on a “crazy roller coaster” ride to rid cancer from his system.
“As my new, world-altering doctor spoke about cell cores and Gleason scores, probabilities of survival, incontinence and impotence, why surgery would be good and what kind would make the most sense, his 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,” he wrote.
“Right after I got the news, still trying to process the key words echoing dimly in my head (’probability of survival-vival-vival-val … ‘ ‘incontinence-nence-nence-ence … ‘), I promptly got on my computer and Googled ‘Men who had prostate cancer,’” Stiller continued. “I had no idea what to do and needed to see some proof this was not the end of the world.”
After his diagnosis, Stiller apparently phoned his “Meet the Parents” co-star, Robert De Niro (who successfully treated the disease in 2003) for advice, according to Gossip Cop.
The PSA test has been subject to some controversy after a new study challenged the effectiveness of the screening in 2016 due to false positives that lead to unnecessary “over-treatment.” In fact, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force discouraged physicians in 2012 from PSA testing among men in all age groups because of the inconclusive results.
Stiller, however, maintains that the test “saved my life.”
“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.