By Steve Blanchard - October 20, 2021
Longtime college basketball announcer Dick Vitale shared that he has been diagnosed with lymphoma, a form of cancer that affects the network of tissues and organs that produce, store and carry white blood cells that fight infections.
In August, Vitale announced he had several surgeries to get rid of melanoma. He wrote Monday that doctors don't believe the lymphoma diagnosis is related.
The two main types of lymphoma are Hodgkin, which spreads in an orderly manner through lymph nodes, and non-Hodgkin, which spreads in a non-orderly fashion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The plan is to treat my lymphoma with steroids and six months of chemotherapy,” Vitale wrote on ESPN.com. He did not say which type of lymphoma he has. “The medical experts tell me it has a 90-percent cure rate. They say I can continue to work so I will have to manage my work schedule around my chemo schedule as they will monitor my test results along the way.”
According to Moffitt Cancer Center hematologist Dr. Hayder Saeed, remission is possible for lymphoma thanks to treatment advances. However, there are rare occasions when doctors discover a therapy-resistant strain of the cancer.
"Aggressive lymphomas have a potential for cure. However, long-term follow up with an oncologist and survivorship clinic is necessary to identify toxicities and late relapse."- Dr. Hayder Saeed
“It really depends on the biology of the lymphoma,” Saeed said. “Aggressive lymphomas have a potential for cure. However, long-term follow up with an oncologist and survivorship clinic is necessary to identify toxicities and late relapse.”
Imaging studies are necessary to determine what therapy is needed. Different stages of lymphoma can involve different chemotherapy regimens, cycles or strategies, according to Saeed.
Vitale, who lives near Sarasota, said that he feels lucky, despite battling two different kinds of cancer within months of each other.
“I’ve seen firsthand the devastation that cancer can have on families, on children and on all of our loved ones,” wrote Vitale, 82. “It can bring you to your knees. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting. It robs you of so many things, including life itself for some of the most unfortunate patients. I never lose sight of that, and that’s why I feel so lucky.”
Vitale joined ESPN less than four months after it launched in September 1979. He has been a longtime supporter of the V Foundation for Cancer Research and hosts a yearly gala for pediatric cancer research.