Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in men. In the U.S., roughly 30,000 men die of the disease every year. Many famous figures have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and their diagnoses can help to build awareness for the disease. Here is a list of some famous men diagnosed with prostate cancer, followed by information to help you determine if you’re at risk.
Famous Men Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer
The following is a list of only some of the celebrities who have coped with prostate cancer:
- Arnold Palmer: Golfer; Arnold Palmer became a champion for prostate cancer following his own diagnosis. His cancer was usually suspected based on a rising PSA test and confirmed with a prostate biopsy. He chose a radical prostatectomy for treatment and remained cancer free.
- 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: Former United States Secretary of State
- Nelson Mandela: Former president of South Africa and anti-apartheid activist
- François Mitterrand: Former president of France
- Roger Moore: Actor
- Colin Powell: Former United States Secretary of State
- Frank Zappa: Musician
Prostate Cancer Awareness
In addition to celebrities who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, there has been a big push in recent years to raise awareness around the disease. Every September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, during which resources are allocated to educate men about their risks for the disease and their options for treatment. In addition, the Movember Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, raises funds every year by asking men to grow beards in November (“Movember”) for men’s health. Their efforts help to build awareness and raise funds for curing cancers that occur in men.
Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer
- Age: The number one risk factor for being diagnosed with prostate cancer is age. Although prostate cancer can occur in men as young as 40 years old, about 60% of all those diagnosed with prostate cancer are over the age of 65. Those fortunate to live into their 80s will find that four out of five men will have some kind of cancerous prostate condition. The difficulty lies in knowing whether these are aggressive tumors or tumors that will never pose a problem.
- Race: Certain racial and ethnic groups are at more risk than others. While African-American men have a higher death rate than any other racial or ethnic group, that rate has decreased from about 80% to a little over 40% in the past 20 years.
- Genetics: Research on the likelihood of prostate cancer to run in families is ongoing. It has been suggested that if your father or brother has had prostate cancer you are twice as likely to develop it; in other studies, no link has been found. Prostate screening may, therefore, be more important for men with an apparent genetic predisposition.
Prostate Cancer Screening
There has been significant controversy in recent years regarding the value of PSA screening, and for good reason. There is a real danger that PSA screening can result in the overdiagnosis of prostate cancer, and thus, side effects due to treatment that is not needed. At the same time, PSA screening can save some lives. Before your next physical appointment, make sure to read up on PSA screening for men—not for the ill-informed.
Symptoms of prostate cancer overlap with the symptoms of many other conditions and can include frequency, hesitancy, nocturia (urinating at night), and urgency. Other symptoms may include blood in the urine or semen or uncommon symptoms such as bone pain or tingling or numbness in your feet and legs.
Diagnosing Prostate Cancer
As you’re likely aware due to the controversy over PSA screening, diagnosing prostate cancer is not a black and white issue. Learn about the most important things you should know about diagnosing prostate cancer.
Treating Prostate Cancer
Some people have declined screening for prostate cancer due to fears about treatments should the disease be found. Yet there are many options now, and newer treatments are focused on eliminating those dreaded fears. Take a moment to learn about the treatment options for prostate cancer.
Bottom Line on Prostate Cancer in Celebrities or Anyone
Perhaps the most important thing anyone can do when it comes to the prostate is to educate yourself. Learn about prostate screening. Know your risk factors. And don’t ignore any symptoms which concern you, whether they may be related to your prostate or not. Symptoms are our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. Ask for answers and keep asking until you have them. Beyond becoming educated, finding cancer early and surviving often requires people to be their own advocates in their health. After all, nobody is more motivated than you are to keep your body healthy.
For those who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, this advice to learn all you can about your disease and to be your own advocate in your cancer care continues. Studies have found that men who are actively involved in the decision making process regarding their prostate cancer experience much less regret about treatment choices made and have a better quality of life.