House Majority Leader Steve Scalise talks with reporters after the House GOP held its leadership elections on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Scalise announced Aug. 29. 2023, he is undergoing treatment for cancer. (Jennifer Shutt/States Newsroom)
U.S. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise announced on social media Tuesday he is undergoing treatment for cancer. He told followers on the platform formerly known as Twitter that he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma after undergoing tests.
“After a few days of not feeling like myself this past week, I had some blood work done,” Scalise said in his post. “The results uncovered some irregularities and after undergoing additional tests, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a very treatable blood cancer.”
Scalise said he intends to continue working while undergoing treatment and will return to Washington, D.C., to resume work as the second-highest ranking Republican in the House.
Scalise’s cancer diagnosis comes six years after he survived a near-fatal shooting at an Alexandria, Virginia, park while practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game. He was one of six people wounded when gunman James Hodgkinson opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle. A Capitol Police officer returned fire and killed Hodgkinson.
The shooting shattered Scalise’s hip and caused major internal damage, requiring him to undergo multiple surgeries and blood transfusions. He made his return to Congress four months after the shooting and was eventually able to walk again unassisted.
Upon learning of Scalise’s cancer diagnoses Tuesday, his colleagues on Capitol Hill and Louisiana politicians have sent him wishes for a thorough recovery.
“I join with so many others in prayer for Steve and his family,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, said in a statement. “The same faith, family support and internal strength that made Steve such an inspiration to others after he was shot will bring him through this illness and once more inspire us all.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a statement asking asking for Louisiana residents to join him and First Lady Donna Edwards in praying for Scalise.
“We know that Steve doesn’t back down from a challenge,” the governor said. “His toughness, his faith and the love of his family will carry him through this. And the entire state will be by his side supporting him.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer affecting plasma in blood cells. Doctors aren’t sure what causes it, and the American Cancer Society says there are no known risk factors that can be avoided to prevent it.
Multiple myeloma can present itself through a variety of symptoms, ranging from fatigue and anemia to bone pain and broken bones from a minor injury. Based on research of people from 2012 to 2018 with myeloma, the five-year survival rate was 79% when the cancer was diagnosed in a single tumor before spreading. In “distant” or multiple myeloma cases where the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, the five-year survival rate was 57%.
It is not uncommon to find multiple myeloma patients who have survived 20 or more years after being diagnosed and treated. Treatments include chemotherapy, stem cell replacement and cellular therapy, all of which carry their own side effects.
The American Cancer Society considers multiple myeloma a relatively uncommon cancer, with projections that 35,730 new cases will be diagnosed this year. Myeloma is expected to account for 1.8% of all cancer cases in 2023, according to the National Cancer Institute. More than 55% of new cases will be among men.
Trends show an increase in multiple myeloma cases in the U.S., although the National Institutes of Health attribute this to an aging population.
The average age for a multiple myeloma diagnosis is 70, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Scalise is 57 years old.
This article first appeared in the Louisiana Illuminator, a sister site of the Nebraska Examiner in the States Newsroom network.
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