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Stroger sent home with upbeat prognosis

Thursday, June 21, 2007
Chicago Tribune
by Mickey Ciokajlo and Robert Becker

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, who had prostate cancer surgery this week, was released from the hospital Wednesday, and his surgeon sent him off with an excellent prognosis.

"The situation is very favorable, and I think he is going to have a complete and full recovery," Dr. William J. Catalona said at a late afternoon news conference. "We know from past experience that patients with this type of prostate cancer do very well."
Stroger, 44, returned to his South Side home where he was resting.

He had spend two nights in Northwestern Memorial Hospital after surgery Monday to remove his prostate gland. His recovery is expected to take up to three weeks, but he will continue his duties from home through his chief of staff.

Stroger did not speak to reporters Wednesday, and his office did not issue any statements on his behalf.

Catalona, a specialist in prostate cancer surgery who is on the faculty at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, called Stroger's tumor "very favorable" and said it was not a problem that he waited 10 months to have his prostate removed.

He said Stroger may not need further treatment.

"I think things look very, very good for him," Catalona said in a telephone interview earlier Wednesday. "I think he's going to be fine. I think he'll return to full steam and he'll have an excellent prognosis."

Catalona said Stroger probably would not suffer any long-term effects from the surgery. "I think he has a very high likelihood that he is going to recover all his functions," Catalona told reporters.

Catalona said Stroger's cancer was discovered after a routine checkup.

"He was having regular checkups and the [prostate-specific antigen] blood test, and the PSA blood test was elevated a little bit and they recommended a biopsy and that revealed the prostate cancer," Catalona said.

Catalona said it's not unusual for new prostate cancer patients who do not have an aggressive form of the disease to take their time to study their options before choosing surgery.

"There's a bewildering array of information out there on the Internet, much of it is conflicting," Catalona said. "It's really not uncommon for a man to take a while to figure out which way he wants to go, particularly if things look real favorable ... In his case, they do look very, very favorable."

Catalona said there was no recent change in Stroger's condition that prompted a sudden need for surgery.

"He was talking to doctors and educating himself and his family," Catalona said.

The doctor declined to reveal Stroger's Gleason score, a measure of the prognosis for the cancer, but he said it was "a favorable one."

"It wasn't one that would be considered a scary score," Catalona said. "It was considered really a very favorable Gleason score."

The cancer was diagnosed last August during Stroger's campaign for County Board president, his spokeswoman said Tuesday, but his illness was not disclosed until after he was in the hospital Monday.

She said Stroger chose to keep the diagnosis private because he considered it a personal matter.

The spokeswoman said Stroger intended to use his illness to make the public more aware of the disease.

Catalona said he would wait to review results of pathology tests before making a final determination on Stroger's post-operative treatment. But so far it appears none will be necessary.

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