The 62-year-old sports legend was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) in December 2008, he revealed on U.S. breakfast show Good Morning America.
He is currently being treated with medication that targets the abnormal protein that causes the blood cancer.
The intensely private father-of-five says he came forward after learning patients often skip doctor appointments and medication dosage, risking what could otherwise be a full and active life with the disease.
Admitting his own fears he explains, “I thought it was a death sentence. My prognosis is very good. I have to do what is necessary and that means I have to see a specialist on a regular basis, I have to take my medication and I have to get my blood analysed on a regular basis so that I can stay on top of the situation. But if I can do this as I’m told to do it I can manage this disease. It does not have to be a death sentence.
“My whole thing in coming public with this is to let people know who have to face these circumstances that they can prevail. They can continue live meaningful lives and things do not have to stop all of a sudden… You have to have a positive attitude and you have to do what you’re told and what the doctors tell you to do.”
Abdul-Jabbar, who is currently a coach with the Los Angeles Lakers, won five championships with the team before retiring in 1989.
He also famously appeared in the spoof movie Airplane! back in 1980.