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Pennsylvania Governor Says Cancer Won't Impact His Work

Gov. Wolf has been diagnosed with a "mild" but treatable form of prostate cancer, he said Wednesday.


By Angela Couloumbis and Laura McCrystal

Gov. Wolf has been diagnosed with a "mild" but treatable form of prostate cancer, he said Wednesday.

Wolf, 67, said he will soon begin treatment that could last months. He said it won't interfere with his job.

"It really was detected very early. So the procedure is going to be a truly minor one," the governor said at a news briefing, accompanied by his wife, Frances. "I'm not going to be incapacitated at all by this."

Wolf is in the second year of his first term as governor and still fighting to pass his first annual budget, mired in a nearly eight month-long impasse, while having to prepare for the next one. Before his 2014 election, the Democrat was a successful York businessman.

He said the diagnosis does not require emergency treatment, but did not detail what treatment or therapies he will receive. It was also not clear whether he will need surgery, although the governor said his condition does not require chemotherapy.

Before beginning treatment in the coming weeks, Wolf said he plans to take a few days off with his family. He said he has not had a vacation since taking office.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States, behind non-melanoma skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It is also the second most common cause of death from cancer among white men.

A recent study cited by the CDC showed 5.84 percent of men who are 60 will get prostate cancer in the next 10 years.

Wolf said he publicly disclosed his diagnosis to be transparent and also as a way to urge others to consider getting a medical checkup.

"I found this in a routine checkup -- and because I had the routine checkup," he said.

He said he was not scared by the diagnosis, at one point even injecting levity into an otherwise somber announcement, quipping that prostate cancer is something that usually affects "older men" like him.

Frances Wolf said there was no reason "to be sad about this."

"We're more than hopeful that he'll beat it," she said.

Approximately 14 percent of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute. After a prostate cancer diagnosis, 98.9 percent survive at least five years.

Within an hour of Wolf's announcement, several high-ranking elected officials in the Capitol -- including some with whom he has been locked in tense budget negotiations -- offered words of encouragement.

"I understand too well the impact that it has on yourself and your family," said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson), a cancer survivor who echoed the importance of regular medical checkups.

Added Philadelphia Sen. Vincent Hughes, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee: "It's never easy to deal with all of life's responsibilities when you have a disease that demands your immediate attention. It doesn't matter if you are a governor or an accountant."

(c)2016 The Philadelphia Inquirer

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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