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Rick Rizzs preaches early testing for prostate cancer in sharing his own treatable diagnosis

By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Fans listening to the radio broadcast of Friday’s game between the Mariners and Pirates were caught off guard with some personal news from venerable broadcaster Rick Rizzs.

When Michael Milken, the founder of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, joined the broadcast in the second inning to promote the PCF’s home run challenge fundraiser and preach prostate-cancer awareness, Rizzs dropped a surprising revelation.

“Michael, this is something now very close to me,” Rizzs said. “I was diagnosed with prostate cancer about three, four months ago. So I want to applaud you and everybody at the foundation for doing what you are doing because this is a cancer that can be cured. But the key is early testing.”

In the midst of calling the action on the field and trying to talk with Milken about the PCF’s work, including funding research, Rizzs didn’t expound on his diagnosis or current health situation.

It led to some very wild and rampant speculation on Twitter. Rizzs, who doesn’t follow Mariners Twitter, had no idea about the confusion.

When told about it before Saturday afternoon’s game, Rizzs was a little stunned and happy to clarify.

In December, he underwent a biopsy that revealed Grade 1 prostate cancer.

“I was lucky,” he said. “We detected it in its earliest of stages. It’s the best grade you can get in terms of treating it.”

Indeed, Rizzs didn’t have a tumor and wouldn’t require chemotherapy or any sort of surgical procedure, but his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were elevated to levels of concern. He told a handful of members on the broadcast crew but didn’t make it public because of the low grade.

Since the diagnosis, he’s undergone an MRI and will have at least two more this year. He has PSA levels checked every couple of months through blood tests. He will undergo another biopsy in December.

“Guys if you are over the age of 45, get your PSA levels checked and monitor their levels to see if they are going up,” he said. “Prostate cancer is the most treatable form of cancer especially with early detection.”

Mariners broadcaster Dave Sims battled prostate cancer in 2016. He underwent surgery to have his prostate gland removed.

“I was part of the negligence,” Sims told the Times in February 2016. “I had a checkup previously last December, and my numbers were a little elevated, and they said, ‘Get back to us again in six months,’ and I didn’t do it. And they never followed up.”

But doctors caught the cancer in its early stages. Sims has been an advocate for prostate-cancer testing ever since.

“It had me spooked that this had gotten past me,” Sims said. “But timing, luck and the good Lord cutting me a break all came together. I got away with one. My son said I had won the lottery.”

Per the PCF website:

• Prostate cancer is the most common nonskin cancer in men in the U.S., and the fourth-most common tumor diagnosed worldwide.

• In the United States, 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.

• For Black men, 1 in 6 will develop prostate cancer and are more than twice as likely to die from the disease.

• In 2023, more than 288,000 U.S. men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and more than 34,000 will die from the disease. That’s one new case diagnosed every two minutes and another death from prostate cancer every 15 minutes.