Arnold Palmer's Battle with Prostate Cancer

How Arnold Palmer Became a Champion of Prostate Cancer Awareness

Arnold Palmer
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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.

Although best-known for his career as a professional golfer, Arnold Palmer has since become something of a champion off the greens as well, for his work raising awareness about prostate cancer. 

Palmer's Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

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 received a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

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 strongly recommends that men 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. He's an example of someone for whom early detection of the disease proved life-saving. 

However, routine screening for prostate cancer may not be beneficial for all men, since the PSA test has a reputation for false positive results. If you have risk factors associated with prostate cancer, talk to your doctor about the best course of action. 

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 is a non-profit center that offers state-of-the-art prostate cancer treatment options.

His dream of opening a cancer research facility in his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania was realized in 2002, when the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Latrobe Area Hospital unveiled the Arnold Palmer Pavilion.

This cancer treatment center, a 30,000 square-foot addition to Latrobe Hospital features outpatient oncology and diagnostic testing. 

Arnold Palmer Today

Though Arnold Palmer is now retired from the game of golf, he continues the nutrition and exercise plans that he used 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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