Francis Collins to undergo surgery due to prostate cancer

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Former National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, 73, has revealed that he has prostate cancer.

In a Washington Post piece, Collins explained that years ago, “My doctor had noted a slow rise in my PSA, the blood test for prostate-specific antigen.”

“At first, there wasn’t much to worry about — targeted biopsies identified a slow-growing grade of prostate cancer that doesn’t require treatment and can be tracked via regular checkups,” he explained, noting that “things took a turn about a month ago when my PSA rose sharply to 22 — normal at my age is less than 5. An MRI scan showed that the tumor had significantly enlarged,” he wrote. “New biopsies taken from the mass showed transformation into a much more aggressive cancer.”

Collins noted that later in April he will undergo surgery, a radical prostatectomy, to excise his prostate gland.

“My surgeon will be assisted by a sophisticated robot named for Leonardo da Vinci that employs a less invasive surgical approach than previous techniques, requiring just a few small incision,” he explained.

“Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the United States, and about 40 percent of men over age 65 … have low-grade prostate cancer. Many of them never know it, and very few of them develop advanced disease,” Collins wrote. “Prostate cancer is still the No. 2 killer of men.”

Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin underwent a prostatectomy due to cancer in December.

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