The American Cancer Society estimates that 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer will be detected in 2017. Many famous men including actors, politicians and sports figures have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and their diagnoses can help to build awareness for the disease.
The following is a list of only some of the celebrities who have coped with prostate cancer:
• Arnold Palmer: Golfer (see below for Arnold Palmer’s story)
• Harry Belafonte: Singer and actor
• Bob Dole: Former Republican senator from Kansas
• Robert De Niro: Actor and director
• Rudy Giuliani: Former New York City mayor
• Charlton Heston: Actor
• John Kerry: United States Secretary of State since 2013
• Nelson Mandela: Former president of South Africa and anti-apartheid activist
• Francois Mitterand: Former president of France
• Roger Moore: Actor
• Colin Powell: Retired Secretary of State
• Frank Zappa: Musician
Arnold Palmer’s Prostate Cancer Story
Following his own diagnosis, Arnold Palmer became a champion for prostate cancer. His cancer was originally detected based on a rising PSA test, and confirmed with a prostate biopsy. He chose a radical prostatectomy for treatment and remained cancer free until the end of his life in September 2016.
Known for being a world-renowned professional golfer, Arnold Palmer had won dozens of PGA Tour events. He also is recognized for his involvement in politics, such as his personal relationship with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and his charity work and community outreach, including working with foundations such as the Eisenhower Medical Center Foundation and the March of Dimes.
Arnold Palmer became known as a champion off the greens as well, for his work raising awareness about prostate cancer.
Palmer’s Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
In 1997 Palmer was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He had been getting routine physicals that included a PSA test. Because his PSA result rose steadily with each passing year, his physician ultimately recommended performing biopsies. Initially, these tests showed no evidence of cancer, though the PSA continued to rise in subsequent exams. However in 1997 one biopsy in came back showing the early stages of cancer. The biopsy was confirmed at the Mayo Clinic and he received a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
Palmer chose to undergo a radical prostatectomy to remove his prostate entirely. This was followed by radiation therapy treatments that lasted for seven weeks.
Within two months post-treatment, Palmer was back on the golf course and getting back in tour shape. Palmer did say that he noticed that post-surgery and radiation that he was weaker than he had previously been and that he required a longer time to recover after his practices.
Spokesman for Prostate Cancer Awareness
After his treatment in 1997, Arnold Palmer was at the forefront of prostate cancer awareness and was very public and vocal about his support of PSA testing.
Palmer strongly recommended that men not wait until their 50s to get screened for prostate cancer, and often reiterated that choosing to get this simple blood test can help save a life. He was a true example of someone for whom early detection of the disease proved life-saving.
As part of his prostate cancer advocacy, Palmer founded the Arnold Palmer Prostate Center at the Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center within the Eisenhower Medical Center near Palm Springs, Calif. This is a non-profit center that offers state-of-the-art prostate cancer treatment options.
In 2002 his dream of opening a cancer research facility in his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania was realized when the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Latrobe Area Hospital unveiled the Arnold Palmer Pavilion. This cancer treatment center, a 30,000 square-foot addition to Latrobe Hospital features outpatient oncology and diagnostic testing.
Though Arnold Palmer died on September 25, 2016 of complications from heart problems, his name continues to be linked to prostate cancer awareness.