Ian McKellen Cancer: Will Prostate Disease Be Fatal For Him?

By Anthony Smith on December 11, 2012 2:26 PM EST

Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen Cancer: is prostate disease fatal to "Lord of the Rings" and "X-Men" star? (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Ian McKellen cancer stories dashed rapidly across the internet's biggest media publication powerhouses today as Sir Ian McKellen, the beloved, knighted star of such big budget blockbuster crowd favorites as the "Lord of the Rings" and "X-Men" trilogies, as well as more respected, crafted roles in smaller dramas like "Six Degrees of Separation" and a remarkable adaptation of "Richard III," revealed to the press that he had been living with prostate cancer for the better part of the past six or seven years. Sir Ian McKellan, age seventy-three at time of writing, opened up to U.K's Mirror about his grappling with prostate cancer.

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Though Ian McKellan cancer stories started on the aforementioned paper, it took the overnight shift for it to spread to other papers. But to that first source, the typically adroit speaker Sir Ian McKellan-- whose wry verbal flourishes have been the stuff of many an excellent interview with worthy hosts like Graham Norton and Stephen Colbert-- was perfectly candid about the nature of his prostate disease, the challenges of living with cancer, as well as his chances for survival. Though Sir Ian McKellen's disease is slower-growing than most others, failing to metastasize to other parts of his body at of time of writing, living with a life-threatening illness, and monitoring it so that it does not get any worse, still poses a serious challenge to the average person's way of life in the western world.

Ensuring that he would shape the Ian McKellen cancer story himself, the actor intimated the story of the recent leg of his life in which he has been afflicted with the prostate disease to the aforementioned U.K. journal. "I've had prostate cancer for six or seven years," revealed Sir Ian McKellen, "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," expressed the actor with a confidence that most would think belied the potential reality of the situation. "Many, many men 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," Ian McKellen elaborated.

Still, just as those of us who absolutely adore his career did when we heard the news of the Ian McKellen cancer story, the Hobbit actor feared the absolute worst possible outcome when he received the diagnosis of prostate cancer. "You do gulp when you hear the news," expressed Ian McKellen to the Mirror, "It's like when you go for an HIV test, you go, 'Arghhh, if this the end of the road?'" For those of us who count ourselves big fans of the actor, we're hoping that this prostate cancer diagnosis is not the end of his road. And if Ian McKellen has reason to hope, and remain hopeful, then so do we. "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's diagnosed, it's not life-threatening."

Many hearing the Ian McKellen cancer news are wondering to themselves whether or not the prostate disease has the potential to be fatal. Though there are many forms of prostate cancer, and some are far more aggressive than others, a statistic from the American Cancer Society gives us reason to be hopeful about the possibility for Ian McKellen's long and happy life. According to a statistic published by them about relative survival rates for people living with prostate cancer, 5-year survival rates are nearly 100%, 10-year survival rates are nearly 98%, and the 15-year relative survival rate is just about 91%. That Sir Ian McKellen has been living with prostate cancer for seven years now, and the fact that it's under control, means that we can breath a sigh of relief for one of the English-speaking world's most beloved and distinguished actors.

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