Veteran Lexington television news anchor Sam Dick has prostate cancer, the same disease that killed his father in July.
Sam Dick, 54, was diagnosed in September. He announced the results and his treatment plans on WKYT-TV Channel 27's 11 p.m. news Monday.
Dick will have his prostate removed Dec. 9. Because the cancer was detected early, and because Dick is relatively young and in good physical condition, his prognosis is excellent, said Dr. Fred Hadley, his urologist.
David Dick, Sam's father, was a CBS News correspondent for 19 years. He later wrote a number of books, including one about dealing with prostate cancer. He had the disease for 17 years before dying at 80, just a few months before his son was diagnosed.
Sam Dick said he has had no symptoms but has gotten regular prostate screenings for the past five years because he was more likely to get the disease since his father had it.
He credits his father, who pushed him to get the checkups, and Hadley, who performed them, for "saving my life."
"I'm a guy and ... you don't want to do something un comfortable," Dick said. "You don't want to go to the doctor and you don't want a digital rectal exam."
The rectal exam didn't show anything, but a blood test, called a prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, test, caused Hadley to order a biopsy that found the disease.
"Without the (regular prostate checks), it would have been years before Sam would have been aware of it, and at that point in time he would not have been curable," Hadley said.
Despite his very public job, Dick is a very private person, said his wife, Noelle Dick. He decided to go public with the news in hopes of persuading others to get tested.
"I'm so proud of him because I know his first reaction is, 'I don't want to be labeled as someone with cancer,'" Noelle Dick said.
In addition to going public about his prostate cancer on TV, Sam Dick will write a blog and talk about it on a Facebook page.
Viewers might have suspected something was amiss even if Dick didn't say anything. He's never been away from his job for more than a week in 26 years at WKYT. After the Dec. 9 surgery, he expects to be off the air for the rest of the month.
Sam and Noelle Dick talked for a couple of weeks before deciding on the surgery.
It could have serious side effects, including incontinence and impotency. The alternatives were a radiation seed placed in the prostate, then waiting and watching to see whether the disease progresses or spreads.
Doctors told him the seed was more appropriate for older men with a more advanced stage of prostate cancer. The idea of waiting, with the possibility that the cancer could grow and spread, was out of the question, Sam Dick said.
Noelle Dick said she favored having the surgery now because her husband, a triathlete, is in great shape, which should help the recovery.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed organ malignancy in men, said Dr. Paul Crispen, a urologist at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital and Markey Cancer Center. It is the No. 2 cause of cancer deaths in men, behind lung cancer.
Hadley said having one relative with prostate cancer makes someone twice as likely to get it. Having two relatives with the disease makes it three times as likely.
Dick's stepmother, Lalie Dick, had told him to be positive and not use the word hopefully when talking about his chances. But he says his journalism training reminds him that a 97 percent chance of success means there's a 3 percent chance of failure.
Even after the prostate is removed, he said, there will be more tests to make sure the cancer hasn't spread.
Dick said he has learned a lot about prostate cancer in the recent months. He expects to learn a lot more. With the blog and Facebook page, he hopes to keep people informed and to encourage them to have prostate screenings.
"This is a very personal thing," he said. "But I think I can be of service, and I think my dad would be cheering me on."