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Fred Thompson Has Cancer; Prognosis Good

Senator Thompson has the kind of lymphoma that is treatable and shouldn't affect his life span:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Fred Thompson, the potential presidential candidate better known as television's gruff "Law & Order" district attorney, said Wednesday he was diagnosed with lymphoma more than two years ago but the cancer shouldn't affect his life expectancy.

In an interview with Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto, the former Tennessee senator, 64, said a doctor conducting a physical in 2004 found a bump on his neck, which turned out to be non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He said the disease is in remission with no illness or symptoms, and it won't affect his decision about whether to seek the Republican nomination.

"I wouldn't be doing this if I wasn't satisfied in my own mind as to the nature of it and the fact that not only will I have an average lifespan but in the meantime I will not be affected in anyway by it," Thompson said. "Now of course nobody knows the future but that has been in the history for almost three years now in terms of no symptoms and no sickness."'

Thompson's physician, Dr. Bruce Cheson, hematology chief at Georgetown University Hospital, said the prognosis is good.

"Some lymphomas are very aggressive, but people with slow-growing types, like Senator Thompson's, more often die from natural causes associated with old age, rather than from the disease," Cheson said in a statement.

The question is, if he runs will the American people be scared off by his having cancer, even the non aggressive kind? Maybe, maybe not. Cancer is a disease that affects a lot of people all over the world, and with the medical advancements that we have today, more and more people are either beating it outright or are managing it well enough that they can go on living their lives.

Senator Thompson has written a candid post about his cancer at Red State. A man who doesn't plan on running for president doesn't go into such detail about such personal matters. This is part of what he wrote:

I have had no illness from it, or even any symptoms. 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.

I am one of the lucky ones. There are many lucky ones today. And for all of our diversity, we share one thing in common--a deep appreciation for the fact that we live in the United States of America and have the best medicine and the best doctors the world has even known.

Update: Allahpundit also sees this announcement as a sign that he's running.

Update II: Captain Ed has some inside information about the senator's health and about the likelihood that he is getting closer to declaring his candidacy:

I've made a few calls on my lunch break, and here's the scoop. Fred's had this for almost three years now, and he's not missed any work or slowed down at all during that time. He and his wife had a child during this period, which gives an indication that he has plenty of stamina; after all, shooting schedules for weekly television programs are not known to be kind to cast and crew.

Why is he announcing this now? Word is that he wants to make sure that his supporters feel comfortable with the issue before proceeding, and he's interested in the commentary. He's a straight shooter and he didn't want this to be a surprise during a campaign -- he's laying his cards on the table. For Fred supporters, that thought process should be very encouraging.

I agree; it is encouraging.


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Comments (12)

Most of his competition has... (Below threshold)

Most of his competition has been braindead for years and it hasn't scared anyone off.......

My best wishes to Senator T... (Below threshold)

My best wishes to Senator Thompson and his family, and I hope Thompson heeds the call many gave John Edwards when his wife recently announced her continued illness, and he steps down from politics and focuses on the important things - his health and his family. That's the choice I would make...

I WOULD STILL VOTE FOR HIM.... (Below threshold)


That's the choice I woul... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

That's the choice I would make...

....for him because I'm so frightened that he'll easily beat my favorite moonbat candidates.

I don't think it's a good i... (Below threshold)

I don't think it's a good idea to vote in a president who has cancer. Treatments are painful and difficult...essentially you'd be voting for his vice president.

Hope all goes well with him. Though I think he should discontinue and focus on his health.

Heralder and Lee you are un... (Below threshold)

Heralder and Lee you are uninformed. He is in remission and Dr. said it would be best if he maintained a normal life and schedule and any question as to his running for President was political not medical.


UncleZeb,I'll conc... (Below threshold)


I'll concede that I was misinformed (or that I didn't read close enough.)

What an asshat I am for thinking it was more serious and that the fellow should focus on his health.

Then again, I shouldn't take offense that someone who spurns the use of commas and conjunctions called me a name.

I read that his cancer is c... (Below threshold)

I read that his cancer is currently in remission, so I'm not uninformed. Not that it's important to anyone except Uncle Zeb, but I don't believe a person with cancer, even if it is currently in remission, is electable.

Last year Elizabeth Edwards said her cancer was in remission, and now it's returned. The same may well happen to Thompson - and as a result, I don't think he has a prayer now of being elected as President.

...but you guys go ahead and pump money into his campaign and run him, if he's your choice. I'm not suggesting you shouldn't.

Last year Elizabeth Edwa... (Below threshold)

Last year Elizabeth Edwards said her cancer was in remission, and now it's returned. The same may well happen to Thompson - and as a result, I don't think he has a prayer now of being elected as President.

Not all cancers are the same. With NHL after 3 years of remission you're generally on safe ground and relapses are rare.

I sincerely wish Fred Thomp... (Below threshold)

I sincerely wish Fred Thompson the best of health. I would like to point out, however, that Elizabeth Edwards isn't running for president. If Fred is a candidate, his health would (more legitimately) be an issue than hers.

That said, if it's been in remission for 3 years, that sounds promising to me. I don't agree with his politics, but I wouldn't rule him out on the basis of health...at least from what I know right now.

Frankly, even if he was my favorite candidate, it would be more important to me that he was alive and healthy than if he was president...

As the Board Certified Medi... (Below threshold)

As the Board Certified Medical Oncologist with over 30 years experience, and a rarely serious commentor here at Wizbang, I think my opinion should be counted on.

Without the details, I'll surmise that Fred has what used to be called a low grade lymphoma or either a well-differentiated lymphocytic lymphoma, or a variant of chronic lymphocytic leukemia(CLL). These animals are different from the rapidly growing, but about 2/3's curable intermediate grade lymphomas. Dr. Cheson is an internationally renown expert in the low grade lymphoma/CLL, which also makes this a most likely diagnosis. Some of these "low grade" cancers do grow fast and kill, but with modern genetics and biochemical markers, these folks with poor prognosis are easier to detect in their early phase of disease so we can prognosticate fairly accurately.

These entities are NOT curable, and though many folks live a long life and die of something else, MOST DO DIE OF THIS DISEASE EVENTUALLY. They are also at higher risk to develop other cancers. They are at increased risk of infections. I love Fred politically, but I think that this is the reason he hasn't been more energetic in throwing his hat in the ring earlier.

All things considered, he's probably healthier than Cheney, FDR or our elder Supreme Court justices. I still hope he runs. But lets be realistic. He does have a health problem that should not be ignored.

I'm with espador.I... (Below threshold)

I'm with espador.

I don't agree with Mr. Thompson's politics and I wouldn't vote for him----but anybody can die at any time. Of course, we might want to pay more attention to Thompson's running mate than we might normally...but if Fred Thompson wants to run, he should.

Personally, I'm more concerned with his health than his political career----but I think there's no reason he shouldn't run...






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