William Shatner has earned success throughout his productive career. The actor, best known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk in the Star Trek series, got the opportunity to travel to space in real life. Shatner’s diagnosis of a terminal illness, on the other hand, made it difficult for him to survive to be 90 years old.
William Shatner, the Star Trek actor, has eight albums to his name and has distinguished himself not just in the acting world but also in the music world. Despite all of his accomplishments, the star’s life was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
In an article for NBC, Shatner highlighted how he had led a very fortunate life but had also experienced death in a number of ways. When he was given a grim prognosis, the celebrity understandably became concerned that his days were numbered.
“I was told by a doctor that I had a deadly condition. That I was going to die,” Shatner told NBC.
“I wasn’t sure how to react to the news. We were actually discussing my funeral.”
“The doctor informed me that I had cancer. I reasoned that there had to be an error. This is how other people feel.”
Prostate cancer frequently grows slowly, and symptoms do not appear until the prostate is large enough to obstruct the tube that drains urine from the bladder into the penis.
Shatner’s doctor administered a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to detect his cancer type. These tests can determine whether cancer seriously threatens one’s life and whether other non-cancerous conditions have led to elevated PSA levels.
“He took my PSA, a marker for this disease, to figure out which sort it was,” Shatner stated of his diagnosis.
“Up until that time, it was at one or two, well within acceptable ranges. He announced that it was ten. ‘ Aggressive cancer,’ says the doctor. “Ten! My own body had deceived me.”
After being stunned, horrified, and somewhat angry by the prognosis, Shatner’s thoughts rapidly went to the potential of death.
“I recognized my prognosis; I had drafted my will, which indicated that upon my death, this person would receive this and that person would receive that,” he acknowledged rationally.
“On a more emotional level, though, I was convinced that I would live indefinitely. I contested it. For me, it meant expressing my will before indulging in a lovely piece of strudel. Death had no meaning for me.”
After striving to accept life while carrying the gravity of a death sentence, Shatner discovered that testosterone supplements—the very supplements he was taking—might have something to do with prostate cancer in some cases.
“I wondered whether I should discontinue taking the supplements. ‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘that would be a terrific idea.’”
In their investigation, researchers in Baltimore, USA, collected blood samples from 759 men, 111 of whom had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Males over the age of 55 were found to be more likely to get prostate cancer, proving conclusively that an increase in testosterone levels is associated with an increased chance of developing the disease.
In contrast, another study from the University of Oxford revealed that, while high testosterone levels were not associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, low testosterone levels were.
Researchers discovered that the body has a finite number of androgen receptors, thus if these are “filled up,” the level of testosterone in the bloodstream is meaningless because binding to a receptor is impossible. This data was derived from blood samples taken from about 19,000 men, 6,900 of whom developed prostate cancer.
This study found that low testosterone levels can reduce the risk of prostate cancer but high testosterone levels do not. And Shatner was no exception.
“Three months later, I received another PSA test. It had dropped to one. One.” According to Shatner, the doctor suspected that the higher PSA number was caused by testosterone.
“The body acquires cancer frequently and exterminates it, but that test’s sensitivity allowed it to identify even the slightest hint of it, which, when combined with the PSA reading, made me fear I was near death. I was pleased to learn that I did not have cancer. I’ve returned to not dying. At the very least, immediately.”
The NHS explains that “false-positive” PSA test results are common and that a blood test, physical examination, MRI scan, or biopsy are more reliable methods of screening for prostate cancer.