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Arnold Palmer and Prostate Cancer

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Updated October 31, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Arnold Palmer is best known for being a world-renowned professional golfer, earning the title of “Athlete of the Decade” in the 1960s by the Associated Press. At the end of his career, 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 community outreach, including helping foundations such as the Eisenhower Medical Center Foundation and the March of Dimes. Since being diagnosed with prostate cancer himself, Palmer has also become a champion spokesman for raising awareness for this disease.

Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

Arnold Palmer was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997. Though he had no physical symptoms of an enlarged prostate, he had been getting routine physicals that included a PSA test. The PSA result rose steadily with each passing year, until his physician recommended performing biopsies. Initially, these tests showed no evidence of cancer, though the PSA continued to rise in subsequent exams. Then, one biopsy in 1997 came back showing the early stages of cancer. He confirmed the biopsy at the Mayo Clinic and a diagnosis of prostate cancer was given.

Palmer chose to undergo surgery to remove his prostate entirely (radical prostatectomy). He followed this with a radiation therapy treatment that lasted for seven weeks, and has not had a recurrence of prostate cancer to date.

Within eight weeks of his treatment, Palmer was back on the golf course and getting back in tour shape. After the surgery and radiation, Palmer said he noticed that he was weaker than he had been, and that he required a longer time to recover after his practices.

Spokesman for Prostate Cancer Awareness

Since his treatment in 1997, Arnold Palmer has been at the forefront of prostate cancer awareness and has tried to be as public as possible about his opinion on PSA testing. Palmer insists that men should not wait until their 50s to get screened for prostate cancer, and reiterates that choosing to get this simple blood test can help save a life.

Palmer also stresses that though an initial diagnosis of cancer may come as a painful shock, it is important to face the problem directly and seek the best treatment.

Palmer has since founded the Arnold Palmer Prostate Center at the Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center within the Eisenhower Medical Center near Palm Springs, Calif. This center is a non-profit center that offers state of the art prostate cancer treatment options.

Palmer’s Later Life

Though Arnold Palmer is now retired from the game of golf, he continues the nutrition and exercise plans that were in use while he was touring as a way to combat cancer. Prostate cancer has been shown to be at least associated with a lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and diets high in red meat and high-fat dairy products. Palmer knows the importance of a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and plenty of exercise, and has made it his mission to inform and help other men fight prostate cancer as well.

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