Apparently, Ian McKellen Doesn’t Have Prostate Cancer. Except He Kinda Does

Despite news reports that indicated Ian McKellen has been battling prostate cancer for the past several years, the Hobbit star’s agent says he’s in fine fiddle.

“No, he does not have prostate cancer,” McKellen’s agent, Chris Andrews told ABCNews.com, repudiating a story first reported in the UK. tabloid The Mirror. “That was taken out of context and from an interview from years ago.”

McKellen’s publicist confirmed the article, “was taken out of context.”

We’re not sure exactly what was out of context: The Mirror is not exactly the paper of record across the pond, but McKellen is pretty straightforward in his quotes:

“I’ve had prostate cancer for six or seven years,” he says. “When you have got it you monitor it and you have to be careful it doesn’t spread. But if it is contained in the prostate it’s no big deal.

“Many, many men die from it but it’s one of the cancers that is totally treatable so I have ‘waitful watching’. I am examined regularly and it’s just contained, it’s not spreading. I’ve not had any treatment.”

…He admits at first he feared the worst but now he happily lives with the disease, undergoing frequent check-ups.

The star – looking tanned and healthy in his suite at Claridges ahead of tomorrow’s premiere of The Hobbit – admitted: “You do gulp when you hear the news. It’s like when you go for an HIV test, you go ‘arghhh is this the end of the road?”

On Wednesday, McKellen took to Twitter and essentially confirmed the Mirror story: “There have been reports in the press of the old news that I have early prostate cancer,” he tweeted. “This was diagnosed six or seven years ago. There is no cause for alarm. I am examined regularly and the cancer is contained. I’ve not needed any treatment.”

It’s likely McKellen’s people were trying to protect their client, or were concerned about confusion between having cancer and doctors finding precancerous cells. Though, y’know, it wouldn’t be such a terrible thing to have another celebrity spokesman for prostate cancer, which affects 1 in 6 men in America.

Well, whether Sir Ian has cancer, had cancer and is in remission, or never had it to begin with, we wish him the best of health.


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  • hyhybt

    The story makes sense to me as-is. Not all prostate cancer is the same, and it’s not uncommon for someone that age to have one that’s so slow-growing and unlikely to spread that there’s no point in worrying about it.

  • balehead

    He’s always been about the money or himself, not the rights of others like he would like us to believe…no surprise here.

  • Older Activist

    Let me clarify this as an older gay man (and longtime activist who has learned how to take the lead in his own healthcare).

    I was diagnosed with prostate cancer 5 years ago. Based on the biopsy, the cancer was defined as “indolent.” Which is to say not aggressive. It could stay localized without growing or spreading for years and I could die in 30 years of heart failure and this cancer might not have progressed.

    One in six men over 50 is likely to have some degree of prostate cancer. The question is, is it aggressive? In the past, doctors had no way of knowing and people would have surgery or radiation, whether necessary or not, and lived with some rather unfortunate side effects.

    McKellen, at his age, would be put on “watchful waiting” because doctors often believe that at that age it’s more likely that the patient will die of some other cause before the cancer is problematic enough to treat. Particularly if it is not aggressive and localized.

    Someone in his 50s (I was 55 when I was diagnosed) is put on “active surveillance” which is to say I am tested several times a year.

    I have PSA tests, which are no longer considered really very useful but they can indicated if something might be wrong. And here is an important FACT NO ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT PSA TESTS:

    DO NOT HAVE AN ORGASM 24 HOURS BEFORE THE TEST. It will skew the results so that it will appear you have cancer.

    Then there is the PCA3 test — a new genetic marker test that can tell whether you’re positive for cancer or not. And it’s a simple urine test.

    There is the endo-rectal MRI, in which they insert a dildo like object up your butt and put in in an MRI machine. The images show if there is cancer, and where.

    Last there is the biopsy — this is a painful procedure that is like looking for a needle in a haystack.. They take at least 12 samples, but there’s no guarantee they will find something even if you have cancer. And after the biopsy you will piss blood for a few days, and come blood for a couple of weeks. Isn’t that fun. There is also the possibility of a serious infection and prostatitis. I have had two biopsies. However, repeat biopsies can damage the nerves, resulting in diminished ability to get an erection. So I have refused all subsequent requests for biopsies, opting instead for the combination of PCA3 tests and Endo-Rectal MRI.

    There are support groups for gay men with prostate cancer. In NYC you can find the information via malecare.org online. You’ll have to search about the find the meetings, but they’re held once a month in NYC. You meet people who are on surveillance, pre and post surgery or radiation. You hear the success stories and horror stories. You hear about good doctors and the not so good.

    By the way — there are men in their 30s in this group, because sometimes, based on family history, this can happen early. So when you see your primary care physician, always ask for a digital prostate exam. And when you have your bloods done, always ask for a PSA test, if only to use as a benchmark.

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