“It came out of the blue for me,” said Stiller, who was treated and declared cancer-free three months later. “I was scared. It just stopped everything in your life.”
In a subsequent essay, Stiller said that he was going public in a bid to raise awareness among other men.
He praised the actions of a doctor who offered him a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test that isn’t compulsory for men of his age – but which detected the cancer.
“(I was) fortunate because my cancer was detected early enough to treat. And also because my internist gave me a test he didn’t have to. Taking the PSA test saved my life. Literally.”
“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.
“What I had — and I’m healthy today because of it — was a thoughtful internist [doctor] 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 tumour until two years after I got treated.”
The actor was typically hilarious on the subject of his diagnosis, writing: "Right after I got the news, still trying to process the key words echoing dimly in my head... I promptly got on my computer and Googled “Men who had prostate cancer.” I had no idea what to do and needed to see some proof this was not the end of the world.
"John Kerry… Joe Torre… excellent, both still going strong. Mandy Patinkin… Robert DeNiro. They’re vital. OK great. Feeling relatively optimistic, I then of course had to do one more search, going dark and quickly tapping in “died of” in place of “had” in the search window."
In Australia more than 3000 men die from prostate cancer every year according to Cancer Screening Australia. However, screening is not recommended for men without symptoms.
Symptoms of advanced prostate cancer include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- The frequent or sudden need to urinate
- Pain in the lower back/pelvic area or sciatica