Friends star James Michael Tyler shares cancer diagnosis

Virgin Radio

22 Jun 2021, 10:50

James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther in Friends, has shared the sad news that he is battling stage 4 prostate cancer.

The 59-year-old, best known for managing Central Perk and for being besotted with Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel in the hit sitcom, made the announcement this week.

The actor told The TODAY Show in America on Monday (21st June) that he has been battling the disease since 2018, and that when it was identified by doctors, it had already spread to other parts of his body.

He said, “I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones. I've been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years... it's stage 4. Late stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it's gonna probably get me.”

In the emotional interview, he continued, “I was 56 years old at the time, and they screen for PSA, which is prostate-specific antigen. 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.”

Tyler underwent hormone therapy at first, and he is now undergoing chemotherapy to slow the disease. He recently appeared on Friends: The Reunion via Zoom. When asked whether the Friends cast were already aware of his cancer battle, Tyler said the show's producers had known “for a long time” and that David Schwimmer, who played Ross, had spoken with him on Instagram.

He is urging other men to be checked, and specifically to request a PSA test, which can help to detect prostate cancer. “My goal now is to help save at least one life,” he told the show.

Approximately one in eight men in the UK will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50, and the risk increases with age.