Updated: 2:54 p.m.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) announced Friday that he has prostate cancer in its earliest stages, but he said that his prognosis for a full recovery is good and that his health will not have any effect on his 2010 re-election plans.
“I feel fine. I’m going to be fine. We caught this early,— Dodd said, speaking to reporters Friday afternoon from his Hartford office.
Dodd said he was diagnosed with prostate cancer about six weeks ago, after a routine annual physical he had in June.
He said he talked with a number of his colleagues who have had prostate cancer before deciding which course of treatment to pursue. Among those he said he had spoken with are Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.). Dodd will undergo surgery to remove his prostate next month in New York.
Meanwhile, Dodd made clear that his recent diagnosis will in no way affect his re-election plans. Dodd faces what will likely be the toughest campaign of his career next year, and public polls have already shown him trailing his likely Republican opponent.
“I’m running for re-election. I’ll be a little leaner, a little meaner. But I’m running,— Dodd said. “I’ll be running without a prostate.—
Dodd, who has taken the lead on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee’s development of a massive health care reform measure, also used his announcement to highlight the benefits of having access to quality health care as a Member of Congress. He said his plan paid for an annual physical, which is what ultimately led to his early diagnosis.
“I’m fortunate as a Member of Congress to have those benefits,— Dodd said.
Dodd’s illness and surgery is not expected to affect the ongoing debate over health care in the Senate. Ironically, HELP Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) tapped Dodd to be the point person on health care reform because Kennedy has been absent while battling a brain tumor.
Dodd has already shepherded a bill through a grueling three-week markup, but he is expected to be a major player this fall when his bill needs to be merged with a bill that is expected to come out of the Senate Finance panel.
Dodd said Friday that he will continue to keep a busy schedule prior to his surgery, which will take place after the Senate goes into recess next week. Among the items on his schedule are attending the wedding of Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (ID-Conn.) daughter on Sunday and a Health Insurance Reform Roundtable with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in Hartford on Monday.
Emily Pierce contributed to this report.