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Specter addresses cancer recurrence

The Pennsylvania senator spoke with reporters today after announcing Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with a recurrence of Hodgkin's disease.
/ Source: staff and news service reports

Republican Sen. Arlen Specter said on Tuesday he has been diagnosed with a recurrence of Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymph system.

“I consider it another bump in the road,” he said during a press conference on Capitol Hill this afternoon, adding, “I’ve had lot of bumps, and I’ve got good shock absorbers.”

Specter, the senior senator from Pennsylvania, was originally diagnosed with the disease in 2005. At that time, he was treated with six months of chemotherapy. The disease went into remission, which lasted three years.

Specter's recurrence was diagnosed based on a routine follow-up scan, which showed small lymph nodes in his chest and abdomen. A follow-up biopsy of one of the chest lymph nodes tested positive for recurrence. A bone marrow biopsy came back negative.

Now, Specter will receive chemotherapy weekly over the next 12 weeks.

In a statement released Tuesday, the senator, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he expects to continue working and campaigning for re-election in Pennsylvania.

Specter recently published a book titled, "Never Give In: Battling Cancer in the Senate," in which he credited hard work with getting him through the six months of chemotherapy.

The recurrence was described as less advanced than the bout he had in 2005. His oncologist, John H. Glick of the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, said in a statement released by the senator's office that with his recurrent Hodgkin's disease has a five-year survival rate of 60 percent.

Specter said he was surprised by the test results because he's felt fine and has up kept up his almost daily squash games — even playing Wednesday morning.

"I have a very heavy schedule in any event, and I expect to be able to maintain it," Specter said.

Specter said he's received hugs from senators on both sides of the political aisle.

"You talk about a great unifier, this is it," Specter said. "This is one thing everyone can agree on."