Rage Against the Machine's Tim Commerford has prostate cancer — who's at risk?

Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford revealed he is living with prostate cancer. NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 08: Tim Commerford of Rage Against the Machine performs at Madison Square Garden on August 08, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford revealed he is living with prostate cancer. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

Tim Commerford of rock band Rage Against the Machine revealed he is living with prostate cancer.

In an interview with Spin's Daniel Kohn earlier this week, the bassist said, "I've been dealing with some pretty serious s—."

"Right before I was about to go on tour with Rage, I had my prostate removed, and I have prostate cancer," the 54-year-old added.

With the support of his two sons —Xavier, 20, and Quentin, 18 — and his girlfriend, the musician suddenly faced the toughest battle of his life.

"I've been someone that's taken a lot of pride in being in shape and taking care of myself," Commerford said. "But it's something where either you're either lucky or not."

The rockstar also confessed that he's having a hard time staying positive.

"Prostate cancer is a very, very, very tough one because it's connected to your sexuality," Commerford explained. "It's hard to disconnect from that and when you're forced into that situation, it's a brutal psychological journey. I've been trying to find support groups, and it's hard to find people and hard to talk about it."

INGLEWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 09: Tim Commerford of Prophets of Rage performs onstage at KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas 2017 at The Forum on December 9, 2017 in Inglewood, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for KROQ)
Tim Commerford called prostate cancer "very tough." (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for KROQ)

Initially, Commerford wasn't planning on revealing his diagnosis, but eventually changed his mind.

" ... Over the last 24 hours, I've been thinking about it more, and a weird thing happened," he said. "I was with my girlfriend and we were watching the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony on TV ... and I wondered, where's Andy Taylor and why do they have this other guy in here?! Then it was like, 'Andy Taylor is suffering from stage four prostate cancer and is unable to make it.' My life is sort of like that."

Despite the tough battle, the musician is on the road to recovery, saying that his six-month test "came back at zero."

Function of the prostate

The prostate is a small gland that's part of the male reproductive system. It sits low in the pelvis, just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The walnut-sized gland helps create the fluid in male ejaculation.

Common enlarged prostate symptoms

As men get older, their prostate grows larger and may push up into the bladder and pinch the urethra, the urine tube that drains the bladder. These changes could lead to urinary problems, including having to urinate more often, having an urgency to pass urine and getting up throughout the night to go to the bathroom.

Medical experts say that it’s important to understand bodily changes that could have a significant impact on their overall health.

Enlarged prostate diagram: Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer
As men age, the prostate gland can enlarge. The left photo shows a "normal" sized prostate gland surrounding the urethra, and on the right, an enlarged prostate gland. (Photo via Getty Images)

“Like many of our organs, as we get older there’s an accumulation of DNA damage from mutations over the years and sometimes that DNA damage can lead to a cancer in the prostate. It’s actually very common to get prostate cancer,” Dr. Scott Tyldesley, a radiation oncologist at the BC Cancer Agency, said in an interview with Yahoo Canada.

Tyldesley, who is also a clinical professor in the Division of Radiation Oncology at the University of British Columbia, says a symptom that’s more rare, and potentially more sinister, occurs when prostate cancer spreads to the lymph nodes in the pelvis. If this happens, men will experience swelling in their legs.

Prostate cancer can also spread to the bones, which can lead to new or unusual bone pain, particularly between the joints, the spine or pelvis.

“If somebody’s getting a lot of perineum or prostate pelvic pain particularly in combination with those urine symptoms that would be something you should get checked out sooner rather than later,” Tyldesley advised.

Men over the age of 50 should speak to their doctors about regular screenings for prostate cancer. (Image via Getty Images)
Men over the age of 50 should speak to their doctors about regular screenings for prostate cancer. (Photo via Getty Images)

One of the ways men can get screened is through a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test, which measures the amount of PSA in your blood.

“That is not a diagnostic test for prostate cancer, but people who have a higher than normal level of PSA, particularly if it’s coupled with some other problems, increases the probability that they have prostate cancer,” Tyldesley added. “We often use some combination of symptoms, physical findings and PSA levels to decide whether to pursue a biopsy. Ultimately it’s a biopsy that helps determine whether somebody has prostate cancer.”

Who is at risk for prostate cancer?

According to Tyldesley, men between the ages of 55 and 70 should talk to their doctor about getting regularly screened for prostate cancer.

Aside from age, there may be a genetic predisposition to prostate cancer that can increase a person's risk, making it vital to know your family's medical history.

For example, if your dad and brother have a history of prostate cancer, then it’s more important you get tested. Men who come from families with a history of breast cancer also have a higher risk of prostate cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Men can be proactive about their prostate health by adopting a healthy diet with regular exercise (Image via Getty Images).
Men can be proactive about their prostate health by adopting a healthy diet with regular exercise (Photo via Getty Images).

The institute's research also shows race is a factor linked to the cancer.

African-American men have the highest risk of prostate cancer, followed by Caucasian, Hispanic and Native American men.

“There are some differences in rates and severity in different ethnic groups even within the same country, but it’s not entirely clear if that’s an underlying genetic factor or an environmental factor,” Tyldesley noted.

How men can be proactive about their prostate health

Aside from knowing your family's medical history, Tyldesley says eating a healthy diet is also important for your prostate health.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables daily, minimizing red meat in your diet, exercising several times a week and moderating the amount of alcohol in your diet are all important steps to take to ensure prostate and overall health.

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