Famous men who’ve faced prostate cancer


Famous men who’ve faced prostate cancer

Like all cancers, prostate cancer doesn’t discriminate.  It can and does affect men of all backgrounds from rich to poor, from black to white, to the average Joe to men of celebrity status.  Prostate cancer affects about one in seven men who will be diagnosed with this disease in their lifetime.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung and bronchus cancer and about 1 man in 39 will die because of it.

Even men in the public eye cannot evade prostate cancer’s presence.  Despite their fame, these men with household names each shared a common trait – prostate cancer.  Their struggles with the disease are as unique as their wide range of talents. 

Here is a look at famous men who were given a diagnosis of prostate cancer.  Each man has his own distinctive story to tell in how their prostate cancer was ultimately found, treated, and for the vast majority, conquered:

·      Roger Moore

Probably best known for his role as “James Bond,” Moore was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1993. A self-proclaimed hypochondriac, Moore faced his worst fear of undergoing a radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland) making a full recovery. 

·      Sir Ian McKellen

This actor had an illustrious career spanning almost 55 years that ranged from the stage to the silver screen.  Best known for his roles in X-Men and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, McKellan was diagnosed in 2006 with prostate cancer.  It wasn’t until six years later in 2012, when McKellan finally revealed his disease to the public, stating he had been monitoring the disease through active surveillance.

·      James Brown

It was in 2004 when “The Godfather of Soul” was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was able to successfully treat it the same year after undergoing surgery for it. He passed away two years later at the age of 73 from a weeklong battle with pneumonia.

·      Frank Zappa

This well-known musician, composer, recording engineer, songwriter, record producer, and film director, Zappa was given the news he had prostate cancer in 1990.  Unfortunately, the cancer was detected too late to be considered operable.  He passed away in 1993.

·      Ben Stiller

Stiller took the route of publically revealing in 2016 on The Howard Stern Show his diagnosis at the age of 48.  With no symptoms or family history of prostate cancer, Stiller found out he had the disease when he had a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test at a yearly physical.  He underwent surgery to remove his prostate gland and continues to have PSA tests every six months screening for any recurrence of the cancer.

·      Jerry Brown

At the age of 73, California governor Jerry Brown announced he was being treated for early-stage prostate cancer.  As he underwent radiation therapy, Brown continued to work and in early 2013, he reported his treatment was done and he was doing well.

·      Robert De Niro

Academy Award winner Robert De Niro, known for playing “tough guy” roles, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003 at the age of 60.  Because of regular checkups, De Niro’s cancer was caught at an early stage and has since gone on to make a full recovery.

·      Colin Powell

Powell has been a vocal supporter of prostate cancer awareness devoting his time to the Prostate Conditions Education Council since his cancer was found in 2003.  This former Secretary of State and retired four-star general in the U.S. Army underwent surgery to remove his prostate gland at Walter Reed Army Medical Center

·      John Kerry

While running for President of the United States in 2002, Kerry received some news he wasn’t expecting – prostate cancer.  His father had died from this same cancer at the age of 85.   He had his cancer treated with surgery with no recurrence and now leads a post-cancer lifestyle of regular exercise and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. 

·      Ryan O’Neal

At the time of Ryan O’Neal’s diagnosis of prostate cancer, it was not his first bout with cancer.  In 2001, he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia which is now in remission.  Initially when he was told of his prostate cancer in 2012, it was placed at a stage 4 but later was downgraded to stage T2b meaning it was confined to the prostate and had not spread.  He was treated with targeted cryotherapy as he wanted as few of side effects as possible.

·      Arnold Palmer

Palmer is a golf legend winning 62 PGA Tours earning him a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame.  But his proudest accomplishment was beating back prostate cancer.  It was in 1997 when Palmer was diagnosed and treated with a radical prostatectomy and radiation.  He utilized his fame and fortune to raise awareness of the disease by establishing the Arnold Palmer Prostate Center in Rancho Mirage, California. 

·      Rudy Giuliani

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was given the same diagnosis in 2000 as his father was given 19 years earlier.  To beat back his cancer, Giuliani chose an aggressive multiphase treatment plan that consisted of four months of hormone therapy, implantation of radioactive pellets in his prostate and five weeks of almost-daily external-beam radiation with continuing hormone therapy.  This grueling routine worked and he is doing well.

·      Harry Belafonte

Famous for his singing of “The Banana Boat Song,” this actor, activist, and singer/songwriter had to play the role of cancer survivor when he was told he had prostate cancer in 1996.  He underwent surgery and has even been candid enough to talk about his post-surgery struggles with incontinence, a common side effect.  He stated he was able to overcome it by faithfully doing Kegels for a solid year.


·      Warren Buffett

One of the most successful investors of the 20th century, Warren Buffett announced in 2012 he had stage 1 prostate cancer to his shareholders of Bershire Hathaway after he had been told his PSA blood test came back high.  He made the decision to undergo 44 days of radiation therapy even though he was criticized by some cancer specialists that his cancer was not life-threatening or even debilitating as to be concerned about.  He is doing fine today with no harm done.