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Specter remains upbeat after cancer resurfaces

 (The Spokesman-Review)
Specter (The Spokesman-Review)

WASHINGTON – Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter’s cancer has returned.

The five-term Republican said in a statement Tuesday that he was diagnosed with an early recurrence of Hodgkin’s disease, which is a cancer of the lymph system.

Specter, 78, underwent treatment for the same type of cancer in 2005 and was later given a clean bill of health. The statement said the cancer was revealed in a medical scan but that he has no symptoms.

“I was surprised by the PET scan findings because I have been feeling so good,” Specter said. “I consider this just another bump on the road to a successful recovery from Hodgkin’s, from which I’ve been symptom free for three years.”

The statement released by his office said tests showed cancer in lymph nodes in his chest. A follow-up biopsy of one of the chest lymph nodes was positive for recurrence.

Specter’s oncologist, John H. Glick, of the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, said in the statement that the early diagnosis of his recurrent Hodgkin’s disease has a five-year survival rate of 60 percent.

Specter, Pennsylvania’s longest-serving senator, said he would continue his normal duties – just as he did three years ago. He’s already announced he will run for re-election in 2010, and he said the cancer won’t stop him from that.

Specter has long been an advocate of using federal dollars for cancer research and embryonic stem cell research.

Specter had surgery for a brain tumor in 1993. It recurred three years later but was successfully treated. In 1998, he underwent bypass surgery and later suffered cardiac arrest.