(CNN) -- Retired Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden revealed Tuesday that he was secretly treated for prostate cancer in 2007 while he was still coaching.
"I wasn't ashamed of it," Bowden said in an appearance on CNN explaining why he did not reveal the disease sooner. "I didn't want it to get out because I didn't want my opponents to use it against me."
He said other coaches would have used the information to steal recruits from the Florida State program that he led to two national championships, 12 conference championships and 28 consecutive bowl games on the way to amassing more than 300 wins. Bowden retired in 2009.
Bowden said he learned he had cancer after a routine examination by the Florida State team doctor, Kris Stowers. A few days after the exam, Stowers called and said a blood test had revealed a "little problem," said Bowden, who was 77 when he was diagnosed.
Stowers quickly arranged a clandestine visit to a urologist Bowden once coached.
"Then he said, 'Bring your wife,'" Bowden said. "That scared me."
In a USA Today interview, the doctor, Joe Camps, said he treated Bowden under an assumed identity in a midnight operation at a Florida hospital.
"But I am absolutely stunned this has remained secret for so long," the newspaper quoted Camps as saying.
Bowden had small radioactive pellets surgically implanted in his prostate to kill the cancer cells and is now cancer free, according to the USA Today story.
Bowden made the revelation during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month as part of his affiliation with On the Line, a prostate cancer awareness program.
He urged men to talk with their doctors about being tested for the disease.
About one in every six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.