Ald. Ed Burke confirms he will undergo cancer surgery

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Ed Burke, Chicago's most powerful and longest-serving alderman, will undergo cancer surgery later this week. (WLS)

Chicago's most powerful and longest-serving alderman will reportedly undergo cancer surgery Thursday. Until then, however, it's business as usual.

Ed Burke declined to comment Monday night but appeared at an event at City Hall Tuesday morning. Over the weekend he told Eyewitness News his health was "fine" and denied a report that he had cancer. But Tuesday morning, after the Chicago Sun-Times reported the 70-year-old is battling prostate cancer, he spoke about it for the first time.

"With faith in God and trust in my doctors I'm confident for a full recovery," said Burke. "After a period of recuperation I expect to be able to return to a normal schedule. My family and I are grateful for the many messages of support and prayers from well-wishers."

Burke will have surgery Thursday so he won't miss Wednesday's City Council meeting.

The alderman read a statement Tuesday following an unrelated news conference. The event was listed on his agenda last week, before the first Internet reports of his illness surfaced.

"Several weeks ago during a routine physical, we discovered that my PSA level was elevated. Further tests revealed that, like hundreds of thousands of other men, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer," Burke said.

Burke has served 45 years as 14th Ward alderman, the last 25 as the council's powerful finance committee chairman. He will undergo surgery at an unnamed hospital; he did not disclose the stage of his cancer.

"It's a very different diagnosis for each man, depending on the specifics of the cancer," said Dr. Scott Eggener, M.D., University of Chicago.

Eggener, who is not treating Burke, said prostate cancer is the second-most diagnosed cancer in American men, more often successfully treated with surgery.

"For many men that have prostate cancer that undergo surgery, the prognosis is excellent," he said.

Burke chaired his finance committee Tuesday and will attend the full council meeting Wednesday.

"I trust that you will respect my privacy as I deal with this health issue," Burke said.

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