Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith said Wednesday he recently learned he had early-stage prostate cancer and underwent an April 21 procedure at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester to remove it, according to a statement released by the University of Minnesota.

"Amid speculation, I want to make it aware that I did in fact undergo a procedure on April 21 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester," Smith, who turns 60 next month, said in the statement. "During my regular physical last spring, it was discovered that my prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were high.

"A biopsy was done and it was discovered that I had early stages of prostate cancer. I am happy to say that the cancer was contained and removed and I am now cancer free and feeling great."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 223,307 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007, the most recent year those numbers were tabulated.

Black men are at greater risk than any other ethnic or racial group to get and die from prostate cancer, said Dr. Mark Litwin, a professor of urology and public health at UCLA. He said doctors recommend that black men begin screenings for prostate cancer when they are 40.

"It is of particular importance of men of African descent," Litwin said.

Litwin said removal procedures for prostate cancer are effective, so Smith can enjoy a healthy life going forward.

"If it's caught early ... it's entirely curable," he said.

The fourth-year coach said he is ready for next season. He also encouraged other men to get regular checkups.

Smith, who lost a sister to cancer, has been an active participant in Coaches vs. Cancer, a collaboration between the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the American Cancer Society.

"I am a proponent of regular prostate [exams] and hope that men, especially African-American men, continue to have regular checkups," he said. "Again, I am feeling great and can't wait for the upcoming season."