Thompson reveals cancer diagnosis

April 12, 2007|By James Gerstenzang | James Gerstenzang,Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Fred Thompson, the actor and former senator who is considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination, disclosed yesterday that in 2004 he received a diagnosis of lymphoma and that after treatment, the disease has been in remission.

The announcement and a detailed medical briefing provided by the hematologist who treated Thompson were interpreted by people close to him as indications that the Tennessean is nearing a decision on whether to run for the presidency.

Thompson, 64, told the Fox News Channel that he disclosed his ailment because he wanted to "shoot straight with the American people and see how they react to it."

His doctor, Bruce D. Cheson, head of hematology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, said at a news conference that Thompson has a slow-growing form of cancer known as an indolent lymphoma.

Cheson said Thompson responded favorably to treatment a year ago and showed no ill effects from the disease or its treatment. People with the condition "can travel, they can work, they can possibly be president of the United States," he said.

The disease "is classified as a malignancy but it is nothing like lung cancer or breast cancer," said John Timmerman, a lymphoma expert at the University of California, Los Angeles' Jonsson Cancer Center who was not involved in treating Thompson. "Average survival is measured often in decades, not years."

Thompson's disclosure, in a blog under his name and in an interview with Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto, is the latest cancer revelation involving a public figure.

Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of Democratic presidential contender John Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, recently announced that breast cancer, for which she was treated after the 2004 election, had returned. And White House Press Secretary Tony Snow is about to begin treatment for a recurrence of colon cancer.

Among other GOP candidates, Sen. John McCain of Arizona has undergone surgery for skin cancer and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani underwent treatment for prostate cancer.

James Gerstenzang writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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