Ben Stiller wants you to go to the doctor. It might save your life, as it did his.
On Tuesday, Ben Stiller appeared on "The Howard Stern Show," where the actor revealed that two years ago, he was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer.
Soon after his Howard Stern appearance, the "Zoolander" star published a blog post containing more of the story of his diagnosis, in which he recalls what it was like to hear the word "cancer" in a doctor's office.
He describes it as feeling very much like a scene from a movie:
"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."
Today, Stiller is cancer-free, and he's using his story to call on more men to stay on top of their health.
Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men. If detected, however, the cure rate is nearly 100%, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Detecting prostate cancer is a matter of simple screenings performed by your doctor, but therein lies the problem.
Men don't go to the doctor nearly as often as they should.
A survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that men were half as likely as women to go to the doctor over a two-year period. The study also found that men were more than twice as likely to admit to never visiting a doctor in their entire adult life — meaning that prostate cancer, as well as a host of other medical issues like heart disease and diabetes, don't even have the chance to be detected and addressed.
There are many reasons men report avoiding their doctors, but among them are fear of finding out what might be wrong and a fear of prostate screenings, which can involve — let's face it — a finger up your butt.
There are a lot of organizations working to encourage men to see their doctors more regularly.
The "Movember" movement, which raises awareness for men's health, is one of these groups, but there are many prostate cancer advocacy groups and doctors that encourage men (especially age 40 and over) to get checked.
In his blog post, Stiller credits the PSA blood test with saving his life.
The prostate-specific antigen test is still controversial, as it doesn't actually diagnose cancer but simply lets doctors know if a further biopsy might be needed.
It might not be the best option for everyone, but as Stiller writes, the important thing is knowing your options and having as much information as possible so you can make the decision that's right for you:
"I count my blessings that I had a doctor who presented me with these options. After I chose to take the test, he directed me to doctors who worked at centers of excellence in this field to determine the next steps. This is a complicated issue, and an evolving one. 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."
It's important for Stiller to speak out about his diagnosis and treatment, as his message could save someone else's life.
Every 19 minutes in America, a man dies of prostate cancer. That number can be reduced if more men follow Stiller's lead and go to their doctors regularly, learn their options, and get regular screenings.
For more information about prostate cancer, visit the Prostate Cancer Foundation.