In an exclusive statement to PEOPLE, the actor, 70, said, “Recently I was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. Although I was shocked and stunned by the news, I feel fortunate that it was detected early and according to my extraordinary team of doctors the prognosis is positive for a full recovery.”
O’Neal continued, “I am deeply grateful for the support of my friends and family during this time, and I urge everyone to get regular check-ups, as early detection is the best defense against this horrible disease that has affected so many.”
The actor was treated in the late 1990s for leukemia, which causes the bone marrow to produce too many white blood cells.
The cancer diagnosis comes about three years after he lost his longtime love Farrah Fawcett, who died of anal cancer at age 62. Ryan has a memoir about his life with Fawcett called Both of Us coming out May 1.
The Charlie’s Angels star, 62, was a 1970s fashion idol who began her career in commercials and shot to fame after posing in an iconic portrait wearing a red swimsuit.
Fawcett’s single season as an Angel was followed by work in theater and films such as Logan’s Run. She won Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for several TV movies.
The woman hosted her own reality TV show, Chasing Farrah, and a TV special three years ago, Farrah’s Story, and was an advocate for the Cancer Society and against domestic violence. She married actor Lee Majors in 1973, before she fell in love with O’Neal.
Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal met in 1979 – 12 years after his divorce from his daughter Tatum O’Neal’s mother. The pair dated until 1998 and split in 2001, after O’Neal was diagnosed with leukemia.
As On The Red Carpet writes, the actor has four grown children from three different relationships – Tatum and Griffin, 47, from his first marriage to Joanna Moore, Patrick, 43, from his second marriage to actress Leigh Taylor-Young and Redmond, 27, who was his only child with Fawcett.
Tatum O’Neal, a 48-year-old former child actress who won an Oscar for her role in the 1973 film “Paper Moon,” has recently denied rumors that she is back in rehab. The actress who was estranged from her father for about two decades has long struggled with substance abuse problems.
Redmond O’Neal returned to jail in September and had his probation revoked after he admitted that he used methamphetamine while serving time in a rehab facility.
By the way, Ryan and his daughter Tatum starred in reality TV show ‘Ryan and Tatum: The O’Neals’ on Oprah’s OWN network and Ryan has blamed the media mogul for low ratings.
When he was asked if he was worried that the reality show would tarnish his reputation, he responded: “No because nobody saw it… I don’t know if Oprah saw it.”
Tatum earlier revealed that she found working on the show “weird”: “The term ‘reality show’ is really scary because there’s been some really bad programming. What we did was something very different. It’s deep. I sort of thought it would be fun to work with my dad again, in some weird way.”
She continued: “He’s never yet said he’s the guy that I’ve portrayed him as in my book – first book or second book – so I thought perhaps he’d have that ‘aha moment’ and he’d be like: ‘You know what, I’m really sorry, Tatum. You didn’t have to have the life you had, and I’m here, and I take responsibility.’ That didn’t happen. But oh well. I think it’s interesting television.”
According to Channel 24, Ryan and Tatum have a famously strained relationship with the younger O’Neal revealing her father has hit on her accidently in the past.
She said: “My father doesn’t really remember what I look like. He sees blond hair, a black dress, and to him, that’s just a chick. A girl. He didn’t know it was me, so he kind of swooped in, and I had to remind him I was his daughter. That’s the second time that’s happened to me with him, but you know, he lives in another world.”