‘Friends’ star James Michael Tyler talks prostate cancer battle

'Friends' star James Michael Tyler talks prostate cancer battle


James Michael Tyler, known best for his role as Gunther on “Friends,’ opened up about his long battle with cancer.

The 59-year-old-actor was diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2018 after undergoing an annual checkup. 

“I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones,” Tyler said on the TODAY show. “I’ve been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years. … It’s stage 4 (now). Late stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.”

“I was 56 years old at the time, and they screen for PSA, which is prostate-specific antigen,” he explained. “That came back at an extraordinarily high number … So I knew immediately when I went online and I saw the results of my blood test and blood work that there was obviously something quite wrong there. Nearly immediately, my doctor called me and said ‘Hey, I need you to come in tomorrow because I suspect that you may have quite a serious problem with your prostate.'”

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It was determined through testing Tyler’s cancer was genetically caused and he started a routine of hormone therapy which worked for about a year.

“All I had to do was take a pill in the morning and the night, and boom, life was pretty much normal,” Tyler said. “… I had it then, but (was) able to function normally. … I was feeling fine, honestly. I had no symptoms, I didn’t feel any symptoms. And it was very easy to regulate.”

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But right before the pandemic started, his cancer spread and mutated caused his lower body to become paralyzed.

Tyler said now he’s undergoing chemotherapy but emphasized how important early detection is. 

Pictured: (l-r) James Michael Tyler as Gunther, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller on “Friends”
(Danny Feld/NBCU Photo Bank)

“There are other options available to men if they catch it before me,” Tyler said. “Next time you go in for just a basic exam or your yearly checkup, please ask your doctor for a PSA test. It’s easily detectable. … If it spreads beyond the prostate to the bones, which is most prevalent in my form, it can be a lot more difficult to deal with.”

Al Roker, TODAY’s longtime weatherman, also revealed he had prostate cancer in November and underwent surgery in New York City.

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The TV anchor said it was caught early through his annual checkup. “My outlook and outcome might have been completely different, so I cannot stress enough to people, go out there and get your checkup, make sure you get checked,” he said.



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