James Michael Tyler, Gunther on 'Friends,' Succumbs to Prostate Cancer
James Michael Tyler, the actor best known for his 10-year portrayal of Gunther the barista on the hit TV show "Friends," died of prostate cancer on October 24 at his home. First diagnosed in 2018, the 59-year-old Tyler told the "Today Show" in June 2021 that his cancer had advanced to stage IV and was in his bones and spine.
"I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones," Tyler told "Today." "I've been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years. ... It's stage 4 (now). Late-stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it's gonna probably get me."
One in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 1 in 41 will die of it, making early detection vital. Tyler, whose cancer wasn't detected until it had metastasized, wanted to get the message of early detection out to everyone, lending his voice to a public service announcement for the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF).
"If there's one piece of advice I could give men out there to avoid where I am today, specifically, is get tested," Tyler, who is survived by his wife, Jennifer Carno, said in the PCF video.
One in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 1 in 41 will die of it, making early detection vital.
The numbers back up Tyler's words. The 5-year relative survival rate for prostate cancer is better than 97 percent overall and is nearly 100 percent if it is caught early, or localized. That number dips to about 31 percent if it has metastasized, as was the case with Tyler.
Advice from health organizations varies as to when prostate cancer screenings should begin. The American Cancer Society recommends men at average risk begin talking to their doctor at age 50; the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says men ages 55 to 69 should discuss prostate-specific antigen screening with their doctor; the PCF puts the age for discussions at 45. They all recommend men with a family history of prostate cancer and Black men be screened younger.
"I wish I'd gone in earlier," Tyler said in the PCF video. "You know, it's nobody's fault, but, yeah, if you want to stick around, get tested."