Apparently “Gandalf” has localized prostate cancer

According to a recent report in The Daily Mail (one of our favorite English newspapers), Sir Ian McKellen, the actor who plays the wizard Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings movies, as well as the recently opened movie of The Hobbit, has had localized prostate cancer for 6 or 7 years.

Sir Ian is now 73 years of age. He appears to be on an active surveillance protocol and is quoted as follows in the piece in The Daily Mail:

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.

The Daily Mail itself states that,

Sir Ian’s decision to forgo surgery or radiation treatment for his prostate cancer is one option many men don’t realize they may have.

They seem to have got some of their facts right on this occasion … although Sir Ian himself apparently refers to what he is doing as “waitful watching”. However, if active surveillance is good enough for Gandalf, then maybe it will help other men to get the message too.

7 Responses

  1. I’m betting everyone who has voted “excellent” has been treated. It takes years to understand all the ramifications of treatment, and even after treatment — the war isn’t over, like we all thought it would be.

  2. Dear Ron:

    I will make a 5-cent bet with you that at least three of the four people who voted “excellent” to date are actually men on an active monitoring program of some type (or men who were on such a program for an extended period in the past). And no, I have no idea who they are.

  3. Yes, the “Daily Fail” fails again to tell its readers some important truths. And apparently this posh fellow has neither enough information, brains, nor gymnastic flexibility to “keep an eye on it.” How does he know that “it’s no big deal”? Does he know his Gleason sum, for example? Can he add? Do his doctors tell him anything? That localised stuff might be Gleason 4 + 4, like me. Well, either he, his doctors, or the “Daily Heil” (my preferred rebranding, thanks to its constant hate attacks on the ConDems “scroungers” spiel) got this wrong, dangerously underinformed readers, and sold a lot of copy.

  4. Alternatively, George, the “Daily Fail” may, for once, have got it right. “Gandalf” could very easily have a PSA of < 4 ng/ml, T1c disease, and a Gleason score of 3 + 3 = 6, that has been demonstrably indolent for the past 6 or 7 years. Although I certainly wouldn't dispute the desire of its management to sell copies of the paper and related advertising space.

    In the above scenario, the only thing that would be "wrong" would be "Gandalf's" terminology. Since many men insist that the condition they suffer from is known as prostrate cancer, we may need to exercise some flexibility here.

  5. Ha! Yes Sitemaster, I know. I’m also a pretty intolerant guy when it comes to informing people. I think that such articles can induce a false sense of safety, thanks precisely to such incomplete information. When I was diagnosed as having Gleason sum 4 + 4, T2c, cPSA 31, I knew the score. But some of my Dutch friends said things like “Prostate cancer is the easiest cancer to cure,” period. “50% of those who get prostate cancer survive,” period. Had I not told them about risk measures, they might well wait too long, if and when they got prostate cancer. Maybe they are now!

  6. My point is that we do, in fact, agree … The key issue is accuracy of information, appropriately provided to individual patients. Generalizations of any type are not helpful.

  7. We do indeed agree, Sitemaster.

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