Guinn to undergo prostate cancer treatment

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Gov. Kenny Guinn revealed Thursday he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

He said a biopsy was ordered after higher than normal prostate-specific antigen levels were found in his blood during his annual physical exam.

"This is something we have been monitoring for some time now and his PSA levels have reached a point where we felt a biopsy was necessary and the diagnosis of prostate cancer was made," said Sarah Smith, Guinn's doctor.

Urologist Ranjit Jail of Las Vegas said since the cancer was detected at such an early stage, the governor's chances of survival "is much better than 90 percent."

Guinn said he is confident about his future health.

"My doctors have been keeping an eye on this for some time and, because of the fact that I see them regularly, I have a number of options to chose from for my treatment," he said.

Dema Guinn, the governor's wife of 46 years, said she felt positive about the early diagnosis.

"He's not going to miss a beat," she said.

Guinn's predecessor Bob Miller was also diagnosed with prostate cancer during his final term in office and underwent surgery, which he said was completely successful in eradicating the disease.

Prostate cancer, with 200,000 new cases diagnosed per year, is second to lung cancer as a cancer killer of men. Jain said 40,000 people die each year from prostate cancer.

Treatment options include radical surgery to remove the prostate, external beam radiation, radioactive seed implantation and/or hormone therapy, Jain said. Each option can have side effects, including impotence and incontinence.

"There's no rush, but the governor and his family and his wife have to live with it," he said, adding that there is "no reason whatsoever for Guinn to slow any activities."

A Democrat-turned-Republican, Guinn was elected in 1998 as the state's first GOP governor in 16 years. He is heavily favored to win a second, four-year term against Democratic state Sen. Joe Neal of Las Vegas, and several other candidates.

"I'm sorry to hear about his health," Neal said. "It's a serious condition. But I don't think it affects the race, because the issues stand on their own."

Guinn has spent much of the past year helping Nevada's congressional delegation fight plans to build a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. He is planning later this month to call a special session of the Legislature to deal with a medical malpractice insurance crisis that has shut down the state's only trauma center in Las Vegas.

"I've never felt better in my life," Guinn said after a news conference.

Former governor Miller said his own PSA level is now zero.

"Certainly, learning that you have any form of cancer is a great shock," Miller said. "And I'm certain that with the strong character that he and his family have that he will pull through this fine."

"While it's no easy matter to deal with, the early detection and the new treatments certainly are positive developments for anybody who has to go through this," he said.

Guinn, the son of poor fruit-pickers, once lived in a tin shack and bounced between nearly 30 schools as his parents followed the crops in central and northern California, Oregon and Washington.

An honor student, Guinn got a college football scholarship, married his high school sweetheart, Dema, graduated and worked as a teacher and coach in Visalia and San Jose, Calif., from 1960 to 1964. He moved to Las Vegas to take a low-level education administration post, continued with postgraduate studies and in 1969 became superintendent of schools here.

Guinn left the school district in 1978 to become a bank executive and later became a utility executive. He also served as interim president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before deciding to seek the governor's mansion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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