D-backs' Hall diagnosed with prostate cancer

D-backs' Hall diagnosed with prostate cancer

PHOENIX -- True to his persona, D-backs president Derrick Hall took on his fight against prostate cancer in a very public manner on Tuesday, addressing the revelation at a news conference prior to his club's key game against the Pirates at Chase Field.

Hall discussed the serious condition with Ken Kendrick, Arizona's managing general partner, seated by his side. Kendrick is a seven-year survivor of the disease that, according to the National Cancer Institute, kills about 30,000 American men every year.

"I'm very optimistic," said Hall, who had a biopsy at the Mayo Clinic on Wednesday and learned the results when he was with the team in San Diego on Saturday. "They caught it very early. My family is overly optimistic, as they should be in the case with this disease when it is caught early.

"I feel blessed to have the support. This organization is the closest it's ever been from the players all the way up."

The release of the information comes at a time when the D-backs are trying to wrap up their fifth National League West title and first since 2007. Hall said he will probably opt for surgery, but since he must wait six to eight weeks until after the biopsy, probably won't undergo the procedure until November.

"I want to wait until all the baseball's over," Hall said. "And hopefully there'll be plenty of it."

Hall said there's no history of prostate cancer in his family, although his 67-year-old father, Larry, has been battling the much more problematic pancreatic cancer for three years. Hall is only 46, well below the median age to contract prostate cancer.

The National Cancer Institute estimated that approximately 220,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer alone this year. The mean age for contracting the disease is 67 and only nine percent of those diagnosed are in Hall's age group. But the earlier the diagnosis, the better the chances of survival.

"To me, more importantly, this is an opportunity to spread the word," Hall said. "To educate and get men to be tested. It's very prevalent and I see this as an opportunity to share the message and educate others to take care of themselves."

A simple blood test called a PSA can be taken as part of any panel that is drawn to study levels of cholesterol, plasma, triglycerides, etc. Doctors don't necessarily worry if the numbers, which range from zero to 10, are steadily high. But they do worry when the PSA spikes suddenly from one year to the next. In Hall's case, the figure accelerated five times, necessitating the biopsy. Hall had the routine blood test in August.

Kendrick, like Hall, was diagnosed with the disease when his suddenly elevated PSA led to a biopsy.

"This is so Derrick Hall," Kendrick said about his club president. "Going through this process as I did some years ago is a tough one. Most men who face the disease and are having the surgery Derrick is having want to keep it to themselves. But Derrick is a different guy. I'm very appreciative that he's stepping out and taking a very public position.

"All of us who have been through this battle realize that awareness is a very important element. I think he will impact a lot of other men. The numbers are staggering. Early detection and early intervention is really the answer."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.