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Leukemia & Lymphoma

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Sen. Specter Hodgkin's Disease Returns

Pennsylvania Senator Will Get 12 Weeks of Chemotherapy for Relapse of Hodgkin's Disease
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 16, 2008 -- Sen. Arlen Specter's Hodgkin's disease, first diagnosed in 2005, has returned, the senator has announced.

Hodgkin's is a type of lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system).

Specter (R-Pa.), who is 78 years old, says he will not disrupt Senate activities because of the relapse, which will require 12 weeks of chemotherapy. Specter also says he plans to run for re-election when his term expires in 2010.

The recurrence of his Hodgkin's disease was diagnosed after a routine follow-up PET scan. The scan led to a biopsy, which showed evidence of disease recurrence, according to a news release from Specter's Senate office. The examination showed no cancer in Specter's bone marrow.

"I was surprised by the PET scan findings because I have been feeling so good. 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," Specter says in the news release.

Specter has an "excellent chance" of complete remission of his Hodgkin's disease, says John H. Glick, MD, the senator's oncologist, in the news release.

"He is in superb physical condition, with a normal physical examination and blood work, no symptoms of disease, plays squash regularly, and follows a careful diet," says Glick, a professor of medicine at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Specter underwent treatment after his first diagnosis of Hodgkin's disease in 2005. He has had a series of serious health concerns throughout his career, including surgery for a brain tumor in 1993 and a recurrence of that tumor in 1996.

Specter also underwent cardiac bypass surgery during his re-election campaign in 1998, which he won.

"I've beaten some tough medical problems and tough political opponents and I expect to beat this too," Specter says in the statement.

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