Ian McKellen Reveals Prostate Cancer Illness


The bad news is that Ian McKellen has revealed that he has prostate cancer. The sorta good news is that he was diagnosed 7 years ago and because of constant monitoring, the cancer hasn’t spread and, therefore, isn’t currently life-threatening. While promoting the forthcoming release of his new film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, McKellen opened up about his illness which, on the surface, sounds scary. But when you read his take on the illness, he makes it sound like it’s no big deal at all.

Sir Ian McKellen has revealed that he suffers from prostate cancer. McKellen … tells the Daily Mirror that he’s had “prostate cancer for six or seven years.” But the 73-year-old says the diagnosis is far from a death sentence. “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,” he says. “Many, many die from it, but it’s one of the cancers that is totally treatable so I have ‘wasteful watching.’ I am examined regularly and it’s just contained, it’s not spreading. I’ve not had any treatment,” he adds. Although prostate cancer can pose a serious health risk if left untreated, the X-Men actor maintains that detection is key. “I have heard of people dying from prostate cancer, and they are the unlucky ones, the people who didn’t know they had got it and it went on the rampage. But at my age if it is diagnosed, its not life threatening,” he says. He recalls his diagnosis, saying, “You are told what the situation is: you can have an operation but there is no point [in] me having an operation because there is no need for it,” he says. “What they are concerned about is the cancer going to spread outside the prostate? If it doesn’t you are fine. How do you know if it is spreading? You keep being tested.”

Wow. I had no idea that cancer like this was “treatable”. That Ian McKellen has been living with cancer for “6 or 7 years” without having to undergo surgery and is still able to live a relatively healthy life is amazing to me. When I first saw this headline, my immediate assumption was that the diagnosis was new and that we might soon lose one of the greatest actors alive today. Having read McKellen’s comments in full, I was equally relieved and astounded. Whatever he is doing healthwise is clearly working. He has been a very prolific last 6 or 7 years so it sounds like he and his doctors know what they are doing. I am hopeful we’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of McKellen’s labor for many years to come … cancer be damned.


  • Gillian

    Personally I think having cancer is a big deal, but I like how he isn’t defining himself as a person with cancer, that he is who he is and cancer be damned.

    Sir Ian McKellen is a brilliant actor, and an even more brilliant person :)

  • Meghan

    Prostate cancer is very, very slow moving. My Grandfather had it and also did not require treatment. Many of those diagnosed will die of old age before the cancer affects them. So if you have to have cancer, having prostate cancer is not that bad.

    Love Sir Ian!

  • Ella

    My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer ten years ago and it has been in remission for seven. Prostate cancer is actually an inevitability for men. It is slow growing. On the other hand there are cases where it is quite serious. My friend’s father has a friend who was just diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer by his new doctor at a regular check up. There’s nothing they can do. He’d been having screening done regularly. So either his doctor completely screwed him over or this was a very fast growing form of prostate cancer.

    Cancer is scary no matter how you slice it.

  • superjosh

    From what I know, men often get prostate cancer in their later years and since it is usually not very aggressive, the most common option is to do nothing. At that age, you’re more likely to pass from other natural causes. Gandalf will not be stopped!

  • Karen

    Prostate cancer *can* be aggressive. My dad had that form and had to have surgery and radiation. The doctors assumed it would be slow growing but it wasn’t, and the delay in treating him caused his surgery to have to be more extensive. Fortunately, that was over 10 years ago and he’s okay.

    However, the dad of a close friend of mine in high school had prostate cancer and had chemo and other treatment, but died of it. My best friend’s dad also had it and died from it.

    I believe it usually is slow growing and most men who have it die of other causes, but it is not necessarily so.

  • Jennifer Wilson

    some people have prostate cancer, get over it.