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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wyden to Undergo Surgery for Prostate Cancer

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 3:32 PM

Ron Wyden talks about funding for sex trafficking victims in Portland on Sunday.
  • Andrea Vedder
  • Ron Wyden talks about funding for sex trafficking victims in Portland on Sunday.
Senator Ron Wyden has been diagnosed with prostate cancer—caught in iuts "very early" stages—and he will undergo surgery next week to treat it, his office announced this afternoon.

“Thanks to routine screening, this was diagnosed very early and I expect a full and speedy recovery," Wyden said in a statement.

The surgery is set for Monday, December 20, at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore—meaning Wyden will likely miss some votes. His absence comes at an unfortunate time for a lame-duck Democratic Congress trying to push through as many of their signature issues as possible before Republicans show their new strength in January. Wyden has already cast his votes against tax cuts, but other lingering issues include the DREAM Act to federal spending legislation that includes money for one of Wyden's big issues, helping victims sex trafficking.

“I scheduled the surgery for the Monday before Christmas anticipating that the Senate would have recessed by that time and that there would be no disruption to my work in Oregon or Washington," Wyden's statement says. "However, it now appears that I will be missing votes tomorrow and possibly next week while I prepare and undergo this procedure."

Wyden acknowledged his good fortune in having the cancer detected when it was. But he also said it wasn't just luck: “If anything is taken away from my experience, I hope it is the importance of getting routine physicals."

Of course, preventative medicine—and making sure more people can afford it—is among the key aims of the recent federal effort to reform health care. Interestingly, Wyden has long been a foe of the so-called public option, and he recently suggested Oregon should opt out of the individual mandate option that did make the health care bill. The (court-challenged) mandate is the main mechanism for lowering the cost of, and thus expanding access to, the kind of health insurance that pays for routine physicals.

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