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Senator Harry Reid Diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer

May 15, 2018

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By Sara Bondell

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer Monday.

“His doctors caught the problem early during routine screening and his surgeons are confident that the surgery was a success and that the prognosis for his recovery is good,” Reid’s family said in a written statement. “He will undergo chemotherapy as the next step in his treatment.”

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 55,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018. Of those, about 44,000 will die from the disease.

Dr. Pamela Hodul, a surgical oncologist with Moffitt’s Gastrointestinal Department, says early stage pancreatic cancers treated surgically and with chemotherapy have the best prognosis.

“The best chance for cure of pancreas cancer is prevention,” said Hodul. “Certain patient populations such as those with certain types of pancreatic cysts, genetic predisposition and family history of pancreas cancer are at greatest risk and require screening and surveillance.” 

Hodul says current developments are underway focusing on early detection and prevention.

Pancreatic cancer is hard to find early since people usually have no symptoms until the cancer has already spread to other organs.

Reid, who was first elected to the Senate in Nevada in 1986, retired at the end of his term in 2017. 

Senator John McCain, who is battling brain cancer, sent his prayers to his former colleague on Twitter, saying, “From one cantankerous senator to another, sending my prayers & best wishes to Senator Reid as he recovers from a successful surgery.”

For more information on pancreatic cancer screening, click here.