Dodd says he has prostate cancer, feels fine

July 31, 2009 11:27:39 AM PDT
Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd said Friday that he has been diagnosed with an early stage of prostate cancer and will have surgery in early August, but the prognosis is good and the illness will not affect his plans to seek a sixth term next year. Dodd said he was diagnosed about six weeks ago during an annual physical, but said he feels OK and is "very confident we're going to come out of this well."

"I'm running for re-election," he told reporters at his Hartford office. "I'll be a little leaner, a little meaner, but I'm running."

The 65-year-old Democrat is chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and is playing a lead role in Congress' attempt to overhaul the nation's health care system. He took that role while his close friend, Senate health committee Chairman Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts fights his own battle with brain cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common form of the disease in men in the United States, affecting about 6.4 out of every 100 men in Dodd's age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dodd is facing what's expected to be a tough re-election campaign.

The Senate ethics committee is probing whether Dodd violated standards of conduct when he received mortgage discounts from the VIP program at Countrywide Financial Corp.

Dodd, whose committee oversees the banking and financial industries, insists he did not receive special deals. He produced a report showing other lenders would have offered the same rates and said he thought the VIP program simply meant enhanced customer service and the ability to get a live person on the phone.

Dodd also was caught up in the furor earlier this year over $165 million in bonuses American International Group Inc. paid some of its employees in 2009 while receiving billions of dollars in federal bailout money.

After first denying it, Dodd admitted he agreed to a request by Treasury Department officials to dilute an executive bonus restriction in the big economic stimulus bill that Congress passed in February. The change to Dodd's amendment allowed AIG to hand out the bonuses and sparked a blame game between Dodd and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Dodd is the son of former Democratic Sen. Thomas J. Dodd. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1974 and was re-elected in 1976 and 1978, and was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980.

He ran unsuccessfully for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, dropping out after failing to gain support in the Iowa caucuses.

He is married to the former Jackie Clegg. They have two young daughters.


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