DALLAS, Aug. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Len Dawson took hard hits for 19 years as a Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. But the shots from the league's best linebackers paled in comparison with a hit he took long after his football career was over.
In 1991, Dawson was diagnosed with prostate cancer. As an athlete who always paid attention to his health and was physically fit even after his retirement from the game, the diagnosis was a shock.
"The doctor was really cheerful until after the examination, then his demeanor changed abruptly," Dawson recalled. "He said, 'I found something there that I think you need to look into. You need to have a biopsy and ultrasonic images to check out what it is'."
For men, prostate cancer can be a silent threat they prefer not to talk about. It is the second leading cause of male cancer-related deaths in the United States, and in 2009, an estimated 192,000 men will be diagnosed with the disease.
"The good news is that the number of deaths can dramatically be reduced through prevention, early detection and appropriate treatment," said Dawson.
Despite his early objections, Dawson's wife, Linda, made an appointment for him to be screened for prostate cancer.
"I owe my life to Linda," Dawson said. "She encouraged me to go, and it was the best decision because that doctor's visit saved my life."
Some men aren't as lucky. Dawson's brother, Ronald, died from prostate cancer, and many of his family members, including Len, didn't know he had the disease because he didn't want to talk about it.
"Ronald was a paratrooper in World War II, and he was the type of individual that never rea
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