Jun 21, 2021 1 min, 44 secs

On TODAY Monday, James Michael Tyler, the actor who played sarcastic coffee shop employee Gunther on "Friends," opened up about his struggle with prostate cancer since being diagnosed in September 2018.

Tyler told TODAY's Craig Melvin that the illness had not been caught early and had advanced to other parts of his body.

"I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones," Tyler explained.

Late stage cancer.

Tyler said that the illness was first caught during an annual checkup.

After additional testing, Tyler was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer.

Matthew Rettig, a research scientist and oncologist at UCLA, who was able to use genetic testing to help Tyler determine that the illness was genetic, not environmental.

While the early days were optimistic, Tyler said that the cancer eventually spread to his bones and spine, leading to paraplegia, or paralysis of the lower body.

Tyler said that the cancer mutated "right at the time of the pandemic.".

Tyler said that he is currently undergoing chemotherapy which is "aggressively" fighting the cancer.

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.".

"The idea of PSA screening is to identify the cancer and diagnose the prostate cancer at a much earlier stage before it has spread, when it is curable with things such as surgery or radiation."?

Screening recommendations vary: The Prostate Cancer Foundation recommends that men at higher risk like Black men or men with a family history of cancer be screened at the age of 40; the organization recommends men discuss screening with their doctor beginning at age 45.

Tyler said that the illness kept him from appearing in person at the "Friends" reunion that aired on HBO Max in late May.

"I wanted to be a part of that, and initially I was going to be on the stage, at least, with them, and be able to take part in all the festivities," Tyler said.

"That's my only reason for coming out like this and letting people know," Tyler explained


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