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GOP Sen. Thom Tillis reveals prostate cancer diagnosis, says doctors caught it 'relatively early'


The North Carolina Republican will undergo surgery next week

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)/(Leigh Vogel/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.) announced Monday that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, saying that his doctors had discovered the disease "relatively early" during a routine exam.

What are the details?

Tillis, 60, issued a statement saying he will undergo surgery next week, wherein he stressed the importance of regular check-ups because that is how his cancer was caught.

"I am blessed that my cancer was detected relatively early and I can't emphasize enough how important routine screenings are, regardless of how healthy you are," the senator wrote. "I had no symptoms and would have never imagined I had cancer."

"My prognosis is good because I went to my annual physical and received a PSA test, which led to a biopsy and eventually my diagnosis," he continued, adding, "Early detection can truly save lives."

The Raleigh News & Observer noted that PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen, and "it is a blood test that measures levels of PSA produced by the prostate."

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the U.S., behind lung cancer. The average age of diagnosis is 66, and most men diagnosed with the disease do not die from it.

The News & Observer also pointed out that "the diagnosis has not limited Tillis's work recently," as "he traveled to the southern border late last week" along with several other GOP senators.

Tillis also had surgery in January, which caused him to miss some votes. The Senate is currently in recess until April 12.

Tillis was first elected to the upper chamber in 2014 and won re-election last fall against Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham.

According to the Fayetteville Observer, Tillis previously served four terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Fellow North Carolina lawmakers extended their well-wishes for Tillis following his announcement.

Sen. Richard Burr (R) said in a statement, "We're praying for a smooth and speedy recovery. I'm confident Thom will tackle this latest challenge the way he approaches everything in life: with plenty of energy, good spirits and the support of his family and friends."

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