In a new memoir, Seinfeld star Michael Richards, 74, shared that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer six years ago.


In Entrances and Exits, Richards, who played Jerry Seinfeld’s quirky neighbor Cosmo Kramer during the show’s 10-year run, discusses his diagnosis with Stage I prostate cancer, reports People magazine. He was diagnosed after a routine checkup that showed high prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels.


Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men after skin cancer, and one in eight men will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. Older men are more likely to develop prostate cancer. About 60% of cases are diagnosed in men 65 or older, and it is uncommon in men under 40. This year, about 299,010 men in the United States will develop prostate cancer.


“I thought, ‘Well, this is my time. I’m ready to go,’” Richards told People about his reaction to the news. “But then my son came to mind just a few seconds later and I heard myself saying, ‘I’ve got a 9-year-old and I’d like to be around for him. Is there any way I can get a little more life going?’”


Prostate cancer is diagnosed via a physical exam and health history. A doctor may perform a digital rectal exam to determine the size and location of tumors. A biopsy, or small tissue sample, may be taken and examined to determine whether a growth is cancerous or benign. PSA tests and transrectal ultrasound imaging may be done to determine how advanced the cancer is, according to Cancer Health’s Basics on Prostate Cancer.


After receiving a concerning biopsy, the Seinfeld alum was told he had to act quickly to contain the cancer. His doctors suggested surgery to remove his entire prostate, an organ the size of a walnut located below the bladder.


“I had to go for the full surgery. If I hadn’t, I probably would have been dead in about eight months,” Richards said.

Michael Richards at the celebration for the release of the SEINFELD DVD at the Rainbow Room, New York, November 17, 2004

Michael Richards celebrates the release of the “Seinfeld” DVD in 2004.Everett Collection/


Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in American men, behind only lung cancer. About 1 in 44 men will die of prostate cancer this year.


Richards said his experience with cancer inspired him to write Entrances and Exits, which comes out June 4.


“I had over 40 journals I’d kept over the years and wanted to do a full review of my life,” he said. "I’m turning 75, so maybe wanting to do that is something that comes with being my age.”


To learn more, click #Prostate Cancer or visit the Cancer Health prostate cancer blogs by Fans for the Cure and Daniel Zeller. In addition, check out Cancer Health’s Basics on Prostate Cancer. It reads in part:


What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?
The major risk factors for prostate cancer are genetics and family history. Studies looking at the link between prostate cancer and a diet high in red meat, chemical exposures including smoking, sexually transmitted infections and having had a vasectomy have produced conflicting results.


What is prostate cancer screening?

Doctors primarily use two tests to screen for prostate cancer: the prostate-specific antigen blood test and the digital rectal exam, in which a finger is inserted into the rectum to feel for lumps or swelling of the prostate.


Experts disagree about when prostate cancer screening should be done. Because it usually grows slowly, most men with prostate cancer will die of other causes, and early treatment carries some risks. The American Cancer Society recommends that at age 50, men should discuss the risks and benefits of screening with their doctor and make an individual decision. African-American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer should start this discussion sooner, at 45 or even 40.


What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Usually early-stage prostate cancer, when tumors are small, causes few or no symptoms. As cancer progresses, some men may experience symptoms including:  

– A frequent urge to urinate

– Difficulty urinating

– Blood in the urine or semen

– Difficulty getting an erection

– Pain in the lower back and hips.


Some of these symptoms may also be caused by noncancerous enlargement of the prostate, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia. Men with metastatic prostate cancer may experience other symptoms, such as bone pain, as the cancer spreads.