- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2003

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell underwent surgery yesterday to remove a cancerous prostate gland.

“Everything went fine,” said his spokesman, Richard Boucher. “The doctors say he had a localized prostate cancer. The surgery took approximately two hours. They say he did extremely well.”

Mr. Powell, 66, was aware of the problem for months but notified President Bush only two weeks ago and scheduled the operation for the holiday season, when U.S. diplomacy generally moves into lower gear.

He will remain at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where as a retired Army general he was treated, and will then go home to McLean to recuperate. But before long, Mr. Boucher said with a smile, Mr. Powell is certain to be sending out directives to his staff by e-mail.

In fact, Mr. Powell telephoned Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage on his way to the hospital and conferred by telephone Sunday with 23 foreign ministers, mostly about the capture of Iraqi ex-dictator Saddam Hussein.

“There are no complications, and a full recovery is expected,” Mr. Boucher said.

Still, Mr. Powell will be on what the State Department described as a reduced schedule for some time.

About 190,000 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in the United States every year, and about 30,000 men died of the disease in 2002, according to American Cancer Society statistics. It is the most common cancer in American men and their second deadliest after lung cancer.

Black men, such as Mr. Powell, have the highest rates of prostate cancer. While death rates have been in decline for a decade, the rate is still twice as high for blacks as for whites.

Dr. Brantley Thrasher, professor of urology at the University of Kansas, said Mr. Powell appeared to have an “excellent chance for cure.”

Dr. Thrasher, in an interview, said it was not clear why blacks have such high rates of prostate cancer.

“Hopefully, a high-profile person like Powell will raise awareness,” Dr. Thrasher said by telephone.

Mr. Powell is a retired full general who held the top military position, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, from 1989 to 1993. He held that position during the Persian Gulf war.

He has been Mr. Bush’s secretary of state from the outset but is considered unlikely to buck tradition and serve in a second term, should Mr. Bush win re-election.

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