- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry announced yesterday he will undergo surgery to remove his cancerous prostate, vowing to beat the disease and "get on with the campaign."
"I am lucky," Mr. Kerry said. "I'm going to be cured."
Mr. Kerry, 59, the junior senator from Massachusetts, said he was diagnosed with an early stage of cancer and would return to work soon.
Dr. Patrick Walsh, urology chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital who pioneered a safer form of prostate removal, will perform the surgery this morning. In a telephone interview arranged by the Kerry campaign, Dr. Walsh said the patient has "a very early, curable" form of cancer.
"I look forward to going in tomorrow morning early and getting it done and getting on with the campaign," Mr. Kerry said at a Capitol Hill news conference. "I'm confident about my capabilities to get on with the campaign."
The surgery complicates Mr. Kerry's bid to win the Democratic presidential nomination but, with the first voting still 11 months away, aides characterized the disease as a minor setback. The candidate did not seem entirely comfortable with the topic, rarely using the word "cancer" and waiting several minutes into the news conference to describe the diagnosis.
Mr. Kerry has not formally announced his presidential plans. The news conference may have been the biggest event of his political career thus far, introducing him to many Americans who know little about his 19-year Senate career spent largely in the shadow of fellow Massachusetts Democrat, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
Mr. Kerry has made strides against his five rivals in a Democratic field that could grow in the next several weeks. Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat, who may enter the race after recovering from heart surgery, called Mr. Kerry to wish him well.
Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri also telephoned Mr. Kerry before the news conference. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, the only doctor in the race, said in a statement, "I have every confidence that he'll come through this well."
Well-wishers included President Bush, whom Mr. Kerry hopes to oust in 2004. "The president wishes him the best of health," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
"This is like a bolt from the blue, completely shocking," said Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman Phil Johnston.
Mr. Kerry began the news conference with a joke about his standoffish reputation, saying he was having his "aloof gland" removed, but he bristled over suggestions that in recent days, he has denied being sick. Mr. Kerry stressed that he wanted to announce his diagnosis "on my terms."
Mr. Kerry, whose father died of prostate cancer in his 80s, was diagnosed at a fairly young age. The senator has at least a 95 percent chance of being cured, Mr. Kerry's doctor said, citing his own newly published study of 2,000 patients who have undergone surgery.
About 220,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, and 28,900 will die, the American Cancer Society estimates. It is the second-leading cancer killer of men, behind lung cancer, and risk increases with each decade of age beyond 50. But caught early, it is highly curable.
Surgery is the most common treatment for prostate cancer that has not yet spread. It will keep Mr. Kerry in the hospital about three days before convalescence.

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