TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Former Florida State football Coach Bobby Bowden has publicly disclosed for the first time he underwent prostate cancer treatment in 2007.
Bowden, who retired from Florida State after the 2009 season, said he's going public about the treatment as a spokesman for On the Line, a national prostate cancer awareness program, USA Today reported.
He said he hadn't told anyone except family about the treatment because he feared opponents would use it against him in recruiting players.
"I did not understand the significance of prostate cancer back then," Bowden told USA Today. "What I knew was when something like that happens to a coach and your opponents find out about it, the first thing they say is, 'Don't go to Florida State. Coach Bowden is about to die.'"
Bowden, who is being compensated for his role as a spokesman, said: "If I knew then what I know now, I would have considered it my moral duty to bring it out in the open."
He was 77 when the cancer was discovered during a routine physical and underwent brachytherapy, in which low-dose radioactive seeds are implanted in the prostate, and has been cancer-free since.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American men, behind lung cancer.
"Women don't mind talking about their problems but men are macho, they cover it up," Bowden said. "Men need to be more aware of this and I'm more than happy to get the word out."
In his 44-year career, Bowden had 377 wins, including national championships in 1993 and 1999, before being forced into retirement in 2009.