Ian McKellen Reveals He Has Prostate Cancer

Ian McKellen
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

The 73-year-old "Hobbit" actor says he's suffered from the disease "for six or seven years."

Ian McKellen says he has prostate cancer in a new interview with the U.K.'s Daily Mirror.

"I've had prostate cancer for six or seven years," he tells the magazine. "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 adds: "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."

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McKellen, 73, returns as wizard Gandalf in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy, beginning with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, hitting theaters Friday.

"You do gulp when you hear the news," says the actor, who gets frequent check-ups on his condition and was diagnosed after he began making frequent trips to the bathroom overnight. "It’s like when you go for an HIV test, you go ‘arghhh is this the end of the road?’ They come and say you have cancer of the prostate and then they say you can have it zapped, you can have it snipped but you are not a candidate for that. You are waitful watching."

At the same time, McKellen observes, "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 it's not life-threatening."

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Email: erin.carlson@thr.com