Sir Ian battling cancer

Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit

Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit

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WIGAN actor Sir Ian McKellen has revealed he has secretly been battling cancer.

The 73-year-old this week spoke for the first time of the prostate cancer which he was diagnosed with around seven years ago.

The revered Shakespearean and star of the new Hobbit triology as Gandalf is having regular check-ups and says he has learned to live with it.

He said: “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.

“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.”

Sir Ian has other health issues too, also revealing that he has hearing problems and cataracts. He was speaking ahead of the release of his new film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Sir Ian also spoke of the day he was told he had cancer.

He added: “You do gulp when you hear the news. 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.

“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.”

He noticed something was wrong when he had to go to the toilet repeatedly in the night. He went to see his GP and a biopsy discovered cancerous cells.

“You are told what the situation is: you can have an operation but there is no point me having an operation because there is no need for it,” he said.

“What they are concerned about is whether the cancer is going to spread outside the prostate? If it doesn’t you are fine.

“How do you know if it is spreading? You keep being tested. I am lucky, I don’t have aches and pains. I do pilates regularly which is a series of stretching exercises and I recommend it to anyone of my age because the temptation is not to exercise when you get older. Well, you should.

“I always walk up the escalator on the tube and I live in a house with a lot of stairs and that’s good exercise but you need more than that.

“The wonderful thing about modern medicine is that so many of these complaints that used to signify old age and decline can be coped with.”