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Tennessee House Member has Prostate Cancer

Announcement comes amid bipartisan discussion about funding a cure

Tennessee Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. said he discovered he had cancer during a routine doctor visit. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Tennessee Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. said he discovered he had cancer during a routine doctor visit. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Add Rep. John J. Duncan Jr.’s name to a long list of people in Congress with a personal experience to contribute to a bipartisan discussion about combating cancer.  

Duncan, a 14-term Republican from Tennessee, announced Tuesday that he has prostate cancer, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported .  

Democrats have argued that the broad range of people touched by the disease — including those in Congress — will persuade Republicans to support Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s “moonshot” task force , which aims to accelerate cancer research to a point where a decade’s worth of progress could be accomplished in half the time.  

Related: [Cancer Experiences Could Help Forge Bipartisan Policy] Duncan told the News Sentinel that the cancer was discovered six or seven months ago during a routine medical exam by the U.S. Capitol physician. Follow-up tests showed the cancer is isolated, the paper reported, and doctors have decided at this stage that no treatment is necessary.  

“I don’t feel sick,” Duncan told the newspaper.  

Duncan’s father, former U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Sr. , died of prostate cancer in 1988, the paper reported. The elder Duncan was 69 at the time of his death, just a year older than his son is now.  

Related: [The Cancer Caucus: Three Lawmakers on Their Experiences With Cancer

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Duncan is not the only House member to announce a cancer diagnosis since the “moonshot” proposal spurred increased discussion of funding for cancer research: Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill announced in February that she has breast cancer.  

Congress has tried to spur additional progress on cancer research by increasing federal money for the National Institutes of Health.


Related: [Biden Gets Pope’s Support for Cancer ‘Moonshot’] Biden’s effort aims to identify new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer by accelerating research efforts, enhancing access to data, and facilitating collaboration among scientists, doctors, patients, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies and philanthropies.    

Contact Akin at and follow her on Twitter at @stephanieakin. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.

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