Gov. Wolf applauded for going public with cancer diagnosis

Katherine Ranzenberger

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said his prostate cancer is "treatable and controllable," an encouraging prognosis he attributes to early detection .

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and his wife, Frances, listen to a reporter's question while discussing his diagnosis of what he called treatable prostate cancer in his Capitol offices, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, in Harrisburg, Pa.  (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

Wolf, a Democrat from York County, announced his diagnosis Wednesday, first in a written statement and then in a televised news conference with his wife Frances by his side.

"Frances and I recently learned I have prostate cancer that was thankfully detected early,"he said in a statement. "My doctors made the diagnosis after a regular checkup revealed abnormalities. In consultation with my doctors I have a planned treatment schedule that will begin in the coming weeks."

Tests to confirm the diagnosis started in late November, the governor said during a later televised news conference. Two weeks ago, he got the final confirmation he has prostate cancer.

"It was detected early," Wolf said. "Prostate cancer is something that older men get. A lot of men die with it, but not a lot die because of it."

According to the American Cancer Society, one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, and one in 38 will die from it.

Six out of 10 diagnosed cases are in men older than 65, and the average age for diagnosis is 66. Wolf is 67.

The relative 5-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. The 10-year survival rate is 99 percent, and  the 15-year rate is 94 percent.

The governor said he will be coming to the York area for his treatment. Treatments will last the next several months, and he doesn't expect it to interfere with his ability to perform as governor.

"It's between me and my doctor how we treat this," he said. "It'll be a normal type of treatment. There will be no chemo. In no way will this interfere with my ability to perform as governor."

First lady Frances Wolf said she was concerned when she heard the diagnosis but said she believes in the doctors treating her husband.

"I feel more than hopeful," the first lady said. "Tom has been tested all these years. Seeing the numbers this time, the doctors have been more than encouraging. They know what to do. We're more than hopeful that he'll beat this."

The Pennsylvania Medical Society sent out a statement on Monday about Wolf's diagnosis.

"His courage to make this announcement should be applauded as it helps to raise awareness of this type of cancer and the importance of early detection," said society president Scott Shapiro. "The Pennsylvania Medical Society wishes Gov. Wolf the best with his treatment."

Gov. Wolf will be taking his first vacation as governor to spend time with his family, he said during the televised statement.

"I am very thankful that my doctors caught this cancer quickly and have worked with me to plan a treatment schedule that will address my medical issues and allow me to serve the people of Pennsylvania," he said in the written statement.

Wolf encouraged Pennsylvanians to schedule regular checkups with their doctors. A routine checkup helped with the early detection of his cancer.

"Whoever you are, whatever you're going through, regular checkups matter," Wolf said.

—Reach Katherine Ranzenberger at