9 Famous Men Who Have Battled Prostate Cancer

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Barbara Meyer on October 8, 2020
  • Ben Stiller - 8 Famous Men Who Have Battled Prostate Cancer
    Putting Prostate Cancer in the Spotlight
    About 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death for U.S. men, yet early detection plays a key role in how effectively it can be treated. In fact, prostate cancer is highly treatable if found early enough. These nine prominent men, including John Kerry and Ben Stiller, have openly shared their experiences with prostate cancer in the hopes of helping others who could be impacted by the disease.
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber
    1. Andrew Lloyd Webber
    Known worldwide for more than a dozen original musicals, including “Phantom of the Opera,” “Cats” and “Evita,” Lloyd Weber learned he had early-stage prostate cancer in 2009 via a routine blood test, then opted to have his prostate removed completely. His cancer has not returned but Lloyd Webber has spoken candidly about the side effects and challenges of the procedure and his continuing checkups. At a 2010 meeting of the House of Lords he recommended that all men over 50 have regular PSA blood tests, and that their doctors should encourage them to do so.   
  • Sidney Poitier
    2. Sidney Poitier
    Poitier is a renowned performer, director, author and diplomat who was the first African American to receive the Academy Award for Best Actor. The star of films including “Lilies of the Field,” “To Sir, With Love” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1993. After successful surgery, he has remained active, writing three books, serving on the board of The Walt Disney Company, and acting as the ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan and UNESCO. 
  • Charlton Heston
    3. Charlton Heston
    Best known for his larger-than-life roles in “The Ten Commandments,” “Ben-Hur” and “Planet of the Apes,” Heston was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1996 following hip replacement surgery. A series of radiation treatments sent the disease into remission. Heston went on to continue his lifelong political activism, championing conservative causes and serving as a five-term president of the National Rifle Association. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003. Heston died in 2008 of symptoms consistent with Alzheimer’s disease.   
  • John Kerry
    4. John Kerry
    The U.S. Secretary of State under President Obama learned he had prostate cancer during a routine annual checkup in 2002 while on the campaign trail. Citing factors such as his father’s death from prostate cancer, Kerry opted to have his entire prostate gland removed in 2003. He said, “I was very lucky to be able to beat it. I want everybody who suffers from this disease to learn the special feeling of being cancer-free.” Since making a complete recovery, Kerry continues his efforts in Washington to raise awareness, education and funding of prostate cancer and has returned to the active sports he enjoys. 
  • Arnold Palmer thumbs up
    5. Arnold Palmer
    This golfing legend won 92 national and international championships—62 of them on the U.S. PGA Tour—and will forever be remembered as one of the best known and most popular American sports figures of all time. After his cancer was detected through a PSA blood test, Palmer practiced watchful waiting until a 1997 biopsy led him to opt for surgical removal of his prostate gland followed by radiation therapy. He was back on the golf course eight weeks after his successful treatment and became an advocate of early detection, founding the Arnold Palmer Prostate Center in California and the Arnold Palmer Pavilion in Pennsylvania. Palmer had no recurrence of prostate cancer before his death in 2016 at age 87 of complications from heart problems. 
  • Frank Zappa
    6. Frank Zappa
    Zappa, a musician, producer, songwriter and composer who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, is ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Though he had sought treatment for years regarding urinary issues, it wasn’t until 1990 that he learned he had prostate cancer, when it was in the final stages and there were no treatments available. Zappa spoke frankly about his condition, how it had affected his work, and the importance of testing for the disease. Zappa died of prostate cancer in 1993.
  • Jerry Orbach
    7. Jerry Orbach
    A popular leading man on Broadway in shows such as “The Fantasticks,” “Chicago” and “42nd Street,” Orbach had only been in his role as Detective Lennie Briscoe in the TV show “Law & Order” for a couple of years when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer through a PSA blood test during an annual physical in 1994. He initially had radiation therapy for his cancer, but it returned and metastasized. He pursued hormone therapy, treatment he continued while working on “Law & Order” until his death from the disease in 2004 at age 69.
  • Ken Griffey Sr.
    8. Ken Griffey Sr.
    A major leaguer for almost 20 years, Griffey won two World Series and appeared in three All-Star games as a member of the renowned Cincinnati Reds’ “Big Red Machine.” The father of baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., Griffey learned he had prostate cancer in 2006 at age 55. He credits his mother’s encouragement to get regular PSA tests done as part of his routine blood work for saving his life. Now he’s involved with educating other men about the condition.
  • Ben Stiller - 8 Famous Men Who Have Battled Prostate Cancer
    9. Ben Stiller
    Actor and director Ben Stiller revealed in 2016 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer two years earlier at age 48. Stiller had no family history or symptoms of prostate cancer. The disease was detected through a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, which Stiller credits with saving his life. (Doctors question the accuracy of such statements, noting that PSA tests can lead to unnecessary treatments that result in serious complications.) Today Stiller says he is cancer-free and advises men to talk with their doctors about the pros and cons of being tested for prostate cancer, calling it a “personal decision.”
9 Famous Men Who Have Battled Prostate Cancer
  1. Prostate Cancer Prevention and Early Detection. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/moreinformation/prostatecancerearlydetection/prostate-ca...
  2. Andrew Lloyd Webber diagnosed with prostate cancer. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2009/oct/25/andrew-lloyd-webber-prostate-cancer
  3. TV & Film. AndrewLloydWebber.com. http://www.andrewlloydwebber.com/tv-film/              
  4. The Man Who Came to Dinner. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/books/00/05/28/reviews/000528.28sayret.html
  5. Celebrities and Leaders of Medicine Support the Manogram® Project. AdMeTech Foundation. http://www.admetech.org/dance-for-a-cure-2010-videos/
  6. John Kerry. Coping with Cancer. http://copingmag.com/cwc/index.php/celebrities/celebrity_article/john_kerry
  7. Biography. ArnoldPalmer.com. http://arnoldpalmer.com/bio
  8. Arnold Palmer. Coping With Cancer. http://copingmag.com/cwc/index.php/celebrities/celebrity_article/arnold_palmer
  9. 30 Seconds With Ken Griffey Sr. The New York Times. http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/12/30-seconds-with-ken-griffey-sr/?_r=0
  10. Ken Griffey Sr. Jr., take a crack at prostate cancer. Fox News... http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/06/19/ken-griffey-sr-jr-take-crack-at-prostate-cancer.html
  11. Meet The Griffeys. Men Who Speak Up About Advanced Prostate Cancer. https://www.menwhospeakup.com/index.php
  12. Arnold Palmer died of complications from heart problems, was scheduled for surgery on Monday. Golf Digest. http://www.golfdigest.com/story/arnold-palmer-died-of-complications-from-heart-problems-was-schedule...
  13. Ben Stiller opens up for the first time since revealing cancer diagnosis. Today. https://www.today.com/health/ben-stiller-opens-first-time-revealing-cancer-diagnosis-t105232
  14. Ben Stiller’s misguided prostate cancer recommendations aren’t based on evidence. Health News Review. https://www.healthnewsreview.org/2016/10/ben-stiller-prostate-cancer/

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Last Review Date: 2020 Oct 8
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