Alonzo Mourning Beats Prostate Cancer, Encourages Men to Get Checked

Alonzo Mourning

Getty After surviving a kidney transplant 21 years ago, Mourning has now beaten prostate cancer.

After surviving a kidney transplant 21 years ago, Miami Heat legend Alonzo Mourning has now defeated prostate cancer. Mourning was diagnosed with Stage 3 prostate cancer, undergoing a procedure in the middle of March, which has left him cancer-free.

The 54-year-old Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer talked about how dangerous the disease is, as often there won’t be any underlying symptoms until it’s too late for treatment. When caught before the cancer has spread, the American Cancer Society puts the five-year survival rate at 99%, based on data from 2013-2019.

Get Checked, Even if You Feel Good

“What scares me about this disease is that there are so many men walking around feeling great and have that cancer in them and they don’t know it,” Mourning told ESPN. “The only way to find out is to get their blood tested and get their PSA checked. There are 3.3 million men living in the U.S. with prostate cancer and many don’t even know it. I was one of those guys.”

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, allowing the cancer to spread and achieve stage IV lowers the five-year survival rate to just 28%. Luckily, treatments are getting better and while the SEER database (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) statistics take previous years into account, men have a better chance than before to survive as long as the cancer isn’t allowed to spread. The key remains early detection, which only comes from testing.

“Life was good and amazing for me, but I had ignored getting checked and let this go, the cancer would’ve spread through my body,” Mourning said. “Unfortunately, as men, we don’t like to go to the doctor, but this is the only way to find out what’s going on in your body. Prostate and even colon cancer are silent killers and many men won’t get those diagnosis until it’s too late.

An Advocate for Men’s Health

“We live in a world where it’s taboo among men to talk about health issues. If I didn’t get routine checkups, I probably wouldn’t be here to talk about this. I want men to be proactive with their health.”

Age and ethnicity play a significant role in developing prostate cancer. While it’s rare in younger (under 40) men, the American Cancer Society warns that the risk rises quickly after age 50. It’s not known why, but African American and Caribbean men with African ancestry develop cancer more often than other races.

The American Cancer Society recommends that African American men aged 45 or higher are at high risk, and should start taking the prostate-specific antigen blood test to screen for any red flags. You can read more about prostate cancer here.

Mourning was originally drafted No. 2 overall by the Charlotte Hornets, after a successful college career at Georgetown. A dominant defensive player, Mourning was a seven-time all-star and two-time Defensive Player of the Year,  along with winning an NBA Championship in 2006 with the Heat. After a 15-year career, Mourning moved into the front office, where he currently serves as the Director of Player Programs and Development.


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