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Former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning had prostate removed after cancer diagnosis. What do we know?




The basketball Hall of Famer opened up this week about his struggles with the disease, his subsequent operation which has left him with a clean bill of health, and ultimately what he hopes men in general will takeaway from his experience.

Alonzo Mourning discusses cancer and prostate removal

According to his conversation with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday, former NBA star Alonzo Mourning is now cancer-free after undergoing an operation in mid-March to remove his prostate. Mourning was of course one of the biggest stars of his generation and enjoyed a career that saw him play for the Hornets, Heat, and Nets between 1992 and 2008. Speaking with Wojnarowski, the seven-time All-Star disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Stage 3 prostate cancer after a biopsy in February. You can see an extract from ESPN below:

In late 2022, Mourning’s urologist, Dr. Maury Jayson, told him that his PSA scores were “creeping up.” A rise in PSA [prostate-specific antigen] scores can be a warning sign of prostate cancer, so the doctor set an MRI screening on his prostate - which revealed some “shadows” in the imaging and necessitated a biopsy for February 23, Mourning said. Soon after, Dr. Sanoj Punnen, a urologic oncologist at the University of Miami, called Mourning with the news that he had a Gleason score of eight - which reflected a high grade of prostate cancer.

“And Dr. Punnen tells me, ‘I want to get a PET scan immediately to make sure cancer hasn’t spread through your body,’” Mourning told ESPN. “I was in shock. I can’t tell you enough about how well my body felt. I was in top-notch shape - running sprints, strong. The doctor told me that he couldn’t believe I had had a kidney transplant. My partner Mariona is waiting for me outside the PET scan, and we are nervous as hell. I’m sitting in the machine with my arms over my head and my mind racing - waiting for the technician to read the scan. We ended up in a cold waiting room waiting for the tech to come in and finally, he looks at us and says he’s got good news: The cancer is still in the (prostate) capsule and hasn’t spread.”

Alonzo Mourning has a message for men

Interestingly, Mourning also spoke to the need for more people to get screened, something he believes a large majority of men are hesitant to do. “We live in a world where it’s taboo among men to talk about health issues,” he said. “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.” Where context is concerned, it’s worth noting that prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States according to the American Cancer Society

“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 said. “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.”

Alonzo Mourning played his final game in the NBA back in 2008. Today, he serves as the Vice President of Player Programs for the Miami Heat. After being drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, he would go on to have a glittering career in which he was twice named Defensive Player of the Year, and even managed to win a title in 2006 with the Miami Heat. Known for his tough-guy approach to the game and remarkable agility for a big man, he was easily one of the best players of his era such that in 2014, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.