Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar revealed early Tuesday morning that he has cancer but that his long term prognosis is good.
Abdul-Jabbar, 62, made the public disclosure almost a year after he was first diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow which studies have shown can be controlled and treated with medication.
According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma society, from 1999-2005 the five-year survival rate for CML is 53.3 percent.
CML patients have what is called the “Philadelphia Chromosome” (Ph chromosome).
Chromosomes are structures in the cells that contain genes. Every cell with a nucleus has chromosomes. Genes give instructions to the cells.
The Ph chromosome is made when a piece of chromosome 22 breaks off and attaches to the end of chromosome 9. A piece of chromosome 9 also breaks off and attaches to the end of chromosome 22. The break on chromosome 9 involves a gene called Abl. The break on chromosome 22 involves a gene called Bcr. The Bcr and Abl genes combine to make the CML-causing gene called the Bcr-Abl cancer gene.
Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. He played 14 of his 20 seasons with the Lakers before retiring in 1989. He is currently a special assistant to the team, working primarily with young center Andrew Bynum and the Lakers front court players.
His role has been lessened this season as Bynum has developed his game, and the Memphis Grizzlies recently asked for and received permission to speak with him about serving in a similar capacity with their team.