Famous Men with Prostate Cancer
The list of men who have had prostate cancer is a long one. This list is not exhaustive, but we are adding to it all the time.
Marion Barry: He was successfully treated in 1995.
Harry Belafonte: He was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer in 1996 and successfully treated. He is now a prostate cancer advocate, raising awareness of the disease in men.
Bill Bixby: Diagnosed in 1991. He succumbed to the disease on November 21, 1993.
James Brown: The Godfather of Soul was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2004 but survived. He died of heart failure in 2006.
Robert DeNiro: The Academy Award winner was diagnosed with early-stage cancer in 2003 at the age of 60. He has kept details of his treatment private. His father died of prostate cancer at the age of 71.
Sen. Bob Dole: Diagnosed in 1991 and successfully treated, he became an outspoken prostate cancer advocate. He became a spokesperson for Viagra because of the problems prostate cancer survivors often experience with erectile dysfunction.
Louis Farrakhan: Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1991. In 1994, he received brachytherapy seed implants. In 1999, he had a near-death experience caused by complications from radiation therapy. In 2003, he founded the Louis Farrakhan Prostate Cancer Foundation. In January 2007 he underwent 12-hour abdominal surgery to correct problems from the 1994 seed implant surgery.
Robert Frost: The poet was diagnosed in 1962, had a radical prostatectomy the same year, and died in 1963.
Rudy Giuliani: The former New York City mayor was diagnosed with prostate cancer in April 2000 and had surgery to implant radioactive seeds in September 2000. Giuliani’s father died from prostate cancer in 1981 at the age of 73.
Robert Goulet: Diagnosed in 1993 at the age of 60 after a routine blood test for insurance purposes, Goulet underwent a radical prostatectomy and is now free of prostate cancer. He has remained an outspoken prostate cancer advocate.
Merv Griffin: Diagnosed in 2000 at the age of 75 and underwent 7 weeks of radiation therapy.
Alec Guinness: While battling glaucoma, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January 2000. In July 2000, he was diagnosed with advanced liver cancer and died a month later on August 5, 2000.
Langston Hughes: Died on May 22, 1967 at the age of 65 after complications from abdominal surgery related to prostate cancer.
John Kerry: The former presidential candidate was diagnosed in late 2002 with early-stage prostate cancer and had successful nerve-sparing prostate cancer surgery in 2003. Kerry’s father died of prostate cancer in 2000 at the age of 85.
Timothy Leary: The 1960s counterculture icon died from the disease in 1996 at the age of 75.
Phil Lesh : The Grateful Dead bassist announced that he was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer in October 2006.
Nelson Mandela: Diagnosed in 2001 with early-stage cancer. He underwent seven weeks of radiotherapy and made a full recovery.
Roger Moore: The former 007 was successfully treated with surgery in 1993.
Pablo Neruda: Died of the disease in 1973 at the age of 69.
Laurence Olivier: Diagnosed in 1967 and underwent radiation treatment that successfully eradicated the cancer.
Jerry Orbach: The Law and Order star died from the disease in Dec. 28, 2004 at the age of 69.
Linus Pauling: The Nobel Prize winner was diagnosed in 1991 at the age of 90 and died of the disease in 1994.
Colin Powell: In 2003, he underwent surgery for early-stage prostate cancer and made a full recovery.
Johnny Ramone: The Ramones guitarist died in 2004 at the age of 55 after a five-year battle with the disease.
Telly Savalas: The “Kojak” star died of the disease in 1994 at the age of 70.
Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf: Diagnosed in 1993 and underwent successful surgery.
Pierre Elliot Trudeau: The Prime Minister of Canada died of prostate cancer in 2000 at the age of 80.
Bishop Desmond Tutu: Diagnosed after a routine exam in 1996. He was treated in the United States with hormone therapy and radiation.
Earl Woods: Tiger Woods’ father was diagnosed in 1998 and successfully treated with radiation, but the cancer returned more aggressively in 2004. Woods died on May 3, 2006 at the age of 74.
Frank Zappa: Died of complications from the disease on December 4, 1993 at the age of 52.
Moishe Rosen- Founder of Jews for Jesus ( See post on this)
Robert Ablin- Father of Richard Ablin and in whom his son’s Foundation is named after. Richard Ablin first discovered the PSA antigen that led to other’s developing the PSA test. Ablin Ph.D is critical of the PSA test and it’s current use. (See my letter to the NYT regarding Richard Ablin.)
Dennis Hopper- Of ” Easy Rider” fame died May 29, 2010 around a year after his diagnosis was made public.
When I was in about seventh grade my oldest brother Rushton had this Mother’s of Invention record. I remember the music on it was very different than what I was hearing on the radio and certainly different from the band I was most familiar with, The Beatles. Most of the songs were very wierd sounding with a lot of talking. There was a song called “Don’t eat the yellow snow.” I don’t know what it is about a famous person having a particular disease or why that may be relevant. I do know for me that when I learned that Frank Zappa (of The Mother’s of Invention) it totally changed my perception of prostate cancer. How could a relatively young person and rock star have a disease of old people? That is when I first “got it” about the dual nature of prostate cancer and this was fortified when I learned that a friend’s father who was a General practitioner died seven months after his diagnosis of prostate cancer. He had metastatic bone disease as the first sign.
The deal with all the talk of informed consent and prostate cancer really has a lot to do with the cost effectiveness of the study, not that ultimately lives are saved. The problem with the debated is we do not have a way of differentiating the Frank Zappa, Bill Bixby, Dan Folgeberg type from the rest. In my opinion we are not ready to begin rationing out the PSA yet until we can figure out the bad kinds. I have have had too many patients with a normal feeling gland and relatively mild elevation of the PSA and subsequently have a very aggressive prostate cancer on biopsy. As a urologist I and the family of such a patient would be quite disappointed if this type patient adopted a watch and wait approach before we even knew of the diagnosis, thus delaying even further the finding of an aggressive tumor with “unaggressvie parameters.” This is the crux of the matter complicated by cost and the larger percentage of patients that have the more favorable type of prostate cancer. We just can’t tell the difference right now without a biopsy and today the most common reason for a biopsy is an elevated PSA-not an abnormal rectal exam or prostate symptoms.
Look at some of th ages of the famous men and how quickly they died after diagnosis. Its Bart Simpson’s “Damned if you do and damned if you don’t” all over again.