ESPN's Dick Vitale says he has vocal cord cancer and will undergo radiation treatments
The 84-year-old Lakewood Ranch resident and college basketball broadcaster is facing his third cancer battle. His doctor says he has a chance to recover before the season begins.
Legendary basketball broadcaster and Lakewood Ranch resident Dick Vitale announced Wednesday night that he has vocal cord cancer and must undergo radiation treatment.
It will be Vitale’s third cancer fight since 2021, after surviving lymphoma and melanoma.
The 84-year-old had surgery for dysplasia and ulcerated lesions of the vocal cords in February 2022, but his physician, Boston laryngeal specialist Dr. Steven Zeitels, notified Vitale in June that the problem returned. On Tuesday in Boston, Vitale underwent a procedure to remove tissues from the vocal cords for testing.
“I’m sorry to share that I received tough news today (Wednesday) from Dr. Zeitels about my throat,” Vitale wrote on social media. “The tests on the tissues they removed showed that I have vocal cord cancer and will need 6 weeks of radiation to treat it.
“Dr. Z tells me that it has an extremely high cure rate, and that radiation, not more surgery, is the best path.”
Vitale, a 2008 inductee in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, is a popular, longtime college basketball TV analyst. His says his goal is to be ready to broadcast games this fall, his 45th season for ESPN. He took off parts of the 2021-22 season to rest his vocal cords.
“I plan to fight like hell to be ready to call games when the college hoops season tips off in the fall,” he wrote. “Dr. Z feels that scenario is entirely possible. I want to say that I have been so touched by the tweets, texts, notes and prayers, and will ask all of you to continue to send positive vibes.”
Vitale, a basketball coach before his broadcast career began in 1979, hosts an annual pediatric cancer fundraiser in Sarasota for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, a nonprofit founded by college basketball coach Jim Valvano, who died of cancer in 1993.
“This time last year, I was on the ESPYs stage, asking everyone to help in the cancer fight,” Vitale wrote, referring to ESPN’s annual sports award show. “This terrible disease strikes so many of our loved ones, and it’s now knocked on my door three different times. More research will continue to help in this fight.”
Vitale announced he beat melanoma in August 2021 after several surgeries. About two months later, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and underwent several weeks of chemotherapy at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. In April 2022, he announced he was cancer-free.
“Though I was disappointed with the pathology report, I plan on winning this battle like I did vs. Melanoma & Lymphoma!” he wrote Wednesday on Twitter.