Dick Vitale: ‘Get Checked, Baby’

By Steve Blanchard - August 19, 2021

Hall of Fame sportscaster Dick Vitale has an urgent message for anyone who has detected an abnormal bump, freckle or mole on their skin – get it checked!

The 82-year-old announced that he recently underwent surgery to have a growth removed from his face and in a column published on ESPN Front Row, he stressed the importance of getting things checked sooner rather than later.

“If you take nothing else away from my personal cancer story, please remember this – don’t waste time,” he wrote. “Specifically, if you notice any kind of growth, mole or skin abnormality, please get yourself checked out immediately. It’s important. I want to deliver that message loud and clear. I’m lucky.”

Doctors at Moffitt Cancer Center stress that early detection is key when it comes to skin cancers.

“Skin cancers are very common and if diagnosed early, the treatment is easier and more likely to be curative,” said Dr. Vernon Sondak, chair of Moffitt’s Department of Cutaneous Oncology.

When abnormalities are found, people should visit their dermatologist or primary physician immediately, Sondak suggests. Seeking the appropriate treatment can save lives.

And Vitale knows that his life was saved because he acted so quickly when he noticed an abnormality, which was diagnosed as melanoma.

“The bottom line is that they removed all cancer cells, and I was relieved, big time, to be cancer clear,” Vitale wrote. “I am in good shape and will be ready to start my 43rd season calling ESPN college basketball games. I’m in awe of the wonderful medical professionals who take such great care of so many of us.”

While most know Vitale from his robust career as a basketball announcer, he has also made a name for himself as a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research – including pediatric melanoma. Sondak said that while rare, children are at risk of melanoma and other skin cancers and he encourages parents to always ensure their children are appropriately covered in sunscreen before any outdoor activities.

Melanoma accounts for roughly one percent of skin cancers but causes a large percentage of skin cancer deaths. The risk of being diagnosed with melanoma increases with age, but it is also one of the most common cancers in young adults. Most new melanoma cases occur in white men over the age of 55, but the cancer is also common among women age 50 or younger.

“Sunscreen and skin care should be an important component for all of us,” Sondak said. “And Dick Vitale’s case is just another reminder of how important early detection can be.”


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