Ben Stiller health: Actor on his former cancer diagnosis – ‘The test saved my life’

Ben Stiller breaks silence on surviving prostate cancer

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The Meet the Parents actor has had several health ordeals over the years. In 2010, the star was on a philanthropic trip to Mozambique when he developed severe symptoms of Lyme disease. Then just two years later, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer but was declared cancer-free, three months later. He attributed his survival to the controversial PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test.

“I feel like the test saved my life,” Stiller announced on The Howard Stern Show around the time.

PSA tests for a protein only found in the prostate in the blood. High levels of the substance can point toward prostate cancer.

Stiller had a high amount of PSA in his blood. He later penned an article on the blogging platform Medium saying that he wouldn’t have learned he had cancer until it was “too late” if it wasn’t for the tests.

“I am not offering a scientific point of view here, just a personal one, based on my experience,” he wrote.

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“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.”

In the medical community, PSA tests are a controversial subject.

The NHS explains that the tests are “unreliable” and can result in false-positive results.

In the UK, people over the age of 50 can receive the tests after discussing them with their doctor.

Taking a one-off test has been shown to be ineffective, according to Cancer Research UK.

A study by the University of Bristol suggests that men who had just one test were as likely to die as those that didn’t have a test.

In some cases, people may be diagnosed with cancers that may never cause any harm, explained professor Richard Martin, who worked on the study.

“In some cases, this might mean men unnecessarily living with the stigma of having cancer and the side effects of treatment that was not needed, such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction, for many years, maybe even decades,” he told Cancer Research UK.

In the United States, an organisation called The US Preventive Services Task Force – a group of volunteer experts who assess ways to prevent diseases and improve health – has opposed the use of PSA tests entirely in the past.

Today, the body’s website recommends against PSA screening for those older than 70 but for anyone younger cautions them about the pros and cons of the tests.

But in the Medium piece, Stiller was strongly against their guidelines – which at the time were distinctly against PSA tests.

At the time in 2012, the star said on the Howard Stern show: “I think everybody should discuss with their doctor and have the opportunity to discuss it with their doctor.”

In the UK, there is no official screening programme.

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