Why Stephen Fry’s Prostate Cancer Revelation Is A Wake Up Call For All Gay Men

"Here's hoping I've got another few years left on this planet," said the out actor in a personal video.

In a courageous video posted Friday, out actor Stephen Fry revealed that he is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.

“For the last 2 months I’ve been in the throes of a rather unwelcome and unexpected adventure,” the 60-year-old Brit told followers on Twitter. “I’m sorry I haven’t felt able to talk about it till now, but here I am explaining what has been going on.”

In the attached video, he recounts seeing his regular doctor for a flu shot in December, when he discovered he had an “aggressive” form of the cancer. A few weeks later, he underwent surgery to have his prostate and nearly a dozen lymph nodes removed. Thankfully, Fry, who became a vegetarian last year, said it doesn’t seem to have spread.

“So far as we know, it’s all been got,” he explained, adding that they won’t know for certain until after more testing.

“Here’s hoping I’ve got another few years left on this planet,” he added calmly. “Because I enjoy life at the moment and that’s a marvelous thing to be able to say, and I’d rather it didn’t go away.”

Fry has been open about past medical issues, including his struggle with bipolar disorder and suicide attempts. Three years ago, he married comedian Elliott Spencer, whom he credits with being a great support.

Michael Steele/Getty Images

While many gay men are comfortable recounting their sexual adventures, and even brushes with sexually transmitted infections, cancer remains taboo—especially prostate cancer, one of the most common forms of cancer in men. In the U.K. alone, more than 40,000 men were diagnosed with it last year. There’s been no conclusive proof connecting anal sex to prostate cancer, but at least one study out of Montreal found that bottoming with more than 20 partners doubled gay men’s risk for the disease.

It’s not clear if that’s because men who sleep with men engage in riskier sexual behavior, or that anal intercourse causes trauma to the prostate, forcing it to produce prostate-specific antigens (PSA).

And it doesn’t help that LGBT people are often less comfortable approaching health-care providers, and more likely to report being discriminated against or not listened to. We’re also less likely to have families and support systems in place to help provide care.

Prostate cancer can often be found fairly early with a PSA blood test, but it tends to develop slowly, meaning many men have the condition for years without realizing it (Symptoms can include an increased need to pee or straining during urination.) While it occurs most often in men over 50, having a close relative with prostate cancer increases your risk. African-American men are also at a significantly higher risk.

There’s no sugar-coating it: Treatment for prostate cancer can impact your sex life, but not all prostate cancer requires invasive treatment. And, frequent masturbation can keep your prostate in good health. The key is to get tested, stay informed, and know your options.

For more information, contact the National LGBT Cancer Network and MaleCare.com

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.