Ian McKellen has opened up about his long battle with prostate cancer.

The 73-year-old actor, who stars as Gandalf in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, revealed the diagnosis in an interview with the Daily Mirror yesterday.

He said the cancer was not life threatening and he has had it "for six or seven years."

"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 ... I am examined regularly, and it's just contained, it's not spreading. I've not had any treatment."

McKellen called on men to get themselves checked for prostate cancer regularly.

He said the people who die from the disease are those who do not detect it until it spreads out of the prostate.

"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, its not life threatening," he told the Mirror.

The actor talked about his mortality in an interview with The Herald before the premiere of The Hobbit in Wellington.

"At 73, your passion for life isn't as strong as it was, your energies get a bit low and there isn't a day when you don't think of death," he said.

- Herald Online