WASHINGTON – Former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, who is actively weighing a campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, revealed Wednesday that he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma 2 1/2 years ago, but said the cancer is now in remission. The revelation came on the same day a new poll showed him moving past Sen. John McCain in a test of GOP White House hopefuls.
Thompson, who is perhaps best known as the tough prosecutor on NBC’s “Law & Order,” said he has had no ill effects from the cancer and that it should have no impact on his life expectancy. His doctor said Thompson had been treated with medication, but because the cancer is in remission he is no longer receiving treatment.
“I have had no illness from it, or even any symptoms,” Thompson said in a posting on the Web site redstate.com. “My life expectancy should not be affected. I am in remission, and it is very treatable with drugs if treatment is needed in the future – and with no debilitating side effects.”
The revelation, first made during an interview on the Fox News Channel, only served to heighten speculation in Republican circles that Thompson is moving closer to a decision to enter the 2008 campaign. GOP strategists said Thompson’s cancer disclosure appeared designed to test public reaction to his condition before he makes a final decision.
“It’s a clear signal that Fred Thompson is serious about getting into this race,” said a Republican strategist familiar with Thompson’s deliberations who asked not to be identified in order to speak candidly.
Thompson surprised many when he expressed his interest in running just a month ago, and has been encouraged by the support he has received from other Republicans. Conservatives in particular have expressed unhappiness with the current field of candidates and some of them see in Thompson qualities they want in a nominee.
Marginal zone lymphoma is relatively rare, accounting for about 10 percent of lymphomas diagnosed in the United States each year. Thompson’s was slow-growing and he had no symptoms when diagnosed, which are both good prognostic signs, said Bruce Cheson, Thompson’s physician.
Thompson’s revelation comes just weeks after Elizabeth Edwards, whose husband, John Edwards, is seeking the Democratic nomination, learned that her breast cancer had returned and had spread to her bones. McCain has been treated for skin cancer.