Turning 72, Dole gets 'excellent' health report

July 22, 1995|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- Although Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, the front-running Republican candidate for president, has a number of physical handicaps and medical conditions, they are "stable or controlled" and his health is "excellent," his doctors said yesterday.

If elected, at his inauguration on Jan. 20, 1997, Mr. Dole would be 73 1/2 years old -- the oldest man to take the presidential oath of office.

The medical records made public yesterday, based on checkups that Mr. Dole underwent in June and earlier this month, indicate that the majority leader is remarkably fit for a man of his age. He turns 72 today.

The doctors provided a written summary of his medical records, and his personal physician spoke in an interview.

The latest tests indicate that the five-term senator has no recurrence of the prostate cancer for which he underwent an operation known as a radical prostatectomy in 1991. "A surgical cure is presumed," wrote Dr. John Eisold, the attending physician of Congress.

Mr. Dole exercises on a treadmill for about 45 minutes several times a week and for an hour and a half on weekends, and has no evidence of heart disease, said Dr. Charles Peck, Mr. Dole's personal physician at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Grievously wounded in World War II while serving as an infantry ** officer in Italy in 1945, Mr. Dole was a quadriplegic for more than a year. Although he recovered the use of his legs and left arm, the injuries left him with only one kidney and a nearly useless right arm.

Mr. Dole suffers occasional spasms from the arm injury and he continues to undergo physical therapy. There have been no additional medical complications from his wounds, the doctors said.

Mr. Dole's most serious recent reported medical problem has been prostate cancer, which was detected in 1991 by a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test. CT scans and other tests have showed no evidence that the cancer had spread.

Pathologists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who examined tissue removed from the operation diagnosed the cancer as "a well differentiated adenocarcinoma," confined to the prostate and with no indication that cancer cells had broken through the ** gland wall, Dr. Peck said.

He also said he told Mr. Dole that he had a good chance of a total cure but did not give him a specific statistic. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for the type of prostate cancer that the senator had is 94 percent.

Yesterday's medical data helps clarify a question of whether Mr. Dole might have had a heart attack in the past.

In 1980, Dr. Freeman Cary, a former attending physician of Congress, said the senator's electrocardiogram suggested that he might have had a heart attack at one time.

Subsequently, he had what his doctors thought were abnormal exercise stress tests. But in '82 Mr. Dole had a coronary angiogram that was normal, and the earlier test results were judged to be false positives.

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