Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer Monday, according to a statement from Reid’s family.
“Today, Former Democratic Leader Harry Reid underwent surgery at Johns Hopkins Cancer Center to remove a tumor from his pancreas,” the family’s statement said. “His doctors caught the problem early during a routine screening and his surgeons are confident that the surgery was a success and that the prognosis for his recovery is good. He will undergo chemotherapy as the next step in his treatment. He is now out of surgery, in good spirits and resting with his family. He is grateful to his highly skilled team of doctors and to all who have sent and continue to send their love and support.”
The news of Reid’s cancer was first reported by a reporter at local station KLAS, a CNN affiliate.
Reid, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986, retired at the end of his term in early 2017, when he was Senate minority leader.
Members of both parties publicly showed their support for Reid. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, at home in Arizona where he himself is battling brain cancer, weighed in to send his prayers and best wishes to his former Senate colleague from across the aisle.
“From one cantankerous senator to another, sending my prayers & best wishes to @SenatorReid as he recovers from a successful surgery,” McCain tweeted.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat who succeeded Reid as minority leader, tweeted shortly after the news broke.
“Spoken to family and it seems @SenatorReid’s operation went well. We are all praying for dear Harry’s speedy recovery,” he tweeted.
Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto also issued a statement Monday, highlighting Reid’s history as a fighter.
“Senator Reid is no stranger to a fight. He beat his opponents in the boxing ring, took on the mob in Nevada, and moved bills in the Senate that no one believed could be done,” Cortez Masto said. “He’ll beat cancer too. I wish him a speedy and successful recovery.”
Pancreatic cancer is responsible for 3% of all cancers and 7% of all cancer deaths in the Unites States, according to the American Cancer Society. About 55,440 people are estimated to be diagnosed this year and 44,330 are estimated to lose their lives to the cancer.
It is more likely to be diagnosed at later stages since symptoms often go unnoticed. They can include yellowing of the eyes and skin, abdominal and back pain, weight loss and fatigue, according to the National Institutes of Health. Diagnosing pancreatic cancer late results in difficulty treating it. Options include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Targeted therapy may also be used in an effort to avoid damaging normal, or healthy, cells.