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Prostate Cancer and Black History Month

It’s time for men to take charge of their health. This is even more important for those of African or Caribbean descent as they are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, the most common cancer to afflict Canadian men.

One of our challenges is to educate the public on prostate cancer’s prevalence in the black population. Cultural nuances and stigmas may play a role in the lack of awareness. Sharing stories about the disease can help to overcome some of these barriers. 

In celebration of Black History Month, we wanted to share some of the contributions of prominent black men who have  also been diagnosed with prostate cancer. These men range from pop stars, to politicians, to activists and athletes.
Those of African or
Caribbean descent are 
65% more likely to 
develop prostate
cancer than Caucasian-
American men.

Learn more:
Prostate Cancer and Ethnicity
Early Detection
PSA Testing
 James Brown

“The Hardest Working Man in Show Business”  is best known for popularizing funk music, and was very involved in the civil rights movement. James was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 71 (2004), and underwent surgery shortly after. James died in 2006 due to heart failure.
 Nelson Mandella

Nelson became the president of South Africa in 1994.  Prior to this, he served 27 years in prison for his involvement in anti-apartheid activism.  He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001, and made a full recovery after undergoing radiotherapy.


  “I need to raise awareness and reach out to people to get them to gather information. I want to be profiled to waken the nation to this crisis. Especially African American men, who are more prone to this disease, have to be made aware and encouraged to seek the medical attention they need and deserve.” 

– Harry Belafonte 


Harry Belafonte

The “King of Calypso” is most well-known for popularizing Caribbean music during the 1950s. The Banana Boat singer is also known as a vocal civil rights advocate. Harry was diagnosed with prostate cancer at 69, underwent surgery, and has since recovered.
 Earl Woods

Best known as Tiger Woods’ father, Earl also served as a US army infantry officer, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998, though he died of a heart attack in 2006 at 74.
“Years ago, … I seldom went to doctors. I didn’t know about early detection, or about heart attack prevention or anything. Nobody knew about prostate cancer unless it killed them,”

– Oscar Robertson
 Oscar Robertson

Olympic medalist and NBA Hall-of-Famer, Oscar, is a basketball legend. Diagnosed with prostate cancer at 72, he decided to have his prostate removed. Oscar has been very public with his battle against prostate cancer, hoping to raise awareness for the disease.
 Colin Powell

As Secretary of State to George W. Bush, Colin was the first African-American to hold this position in the United States. He underwent surgery for prostate cancer at 66 (2003) and has since made a full recovery. 
 King Stitt

Father of reggae dancehall and deejaying, King Stitt paved the way for Jamaican music during the 1960s. After a long struggle with diabetes and prostate cancer, he died in 2012 at 72. 
If there’s one overriding message Prostate Cancer Canada and many prostate cancer survivors have for Canadian men, it is to take charge of their health. PCC encourages men to educate themselves on prostate cancer, and initiate a discussion with their doctor about their prostate cancer risk. For more information on prostate cancer, visit prostatecancer.ca

Post submitted by Jillian Hermansen, Coordinator, Marketing & Communications

Posted: 2012-02-21 10:05:14 AM
Filed under: PCC, prostate cancer, Prostate Cancer Canada, survivors


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