JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Monday that he has prostate cancer but that the disease is not life threatening and he would continue to perform his duties.
Speaking to a packed news conference in Jerusalem, the Israeli leader said the disease was caught at an early stage and that he would have surgery “over the next few months.”
“I will be able to carry out my duties fully before the treatment and within hours afterward,” Olmert said. “My doctors … informed me that there is a full chance of recovery and there is nothing about the tumor which is life threatening or liable to impair my performance or my ability to carry out the mission which has been bestowed upon me.”
“It is a matter of a microscopic growth, it hasn’t spread and can be removed by a short surgical procedure. According to the medical opinion, there will be no need for radiation treatment or chemotherapy,” Olmert said.
Olmert, 62, took office in January 2006 after his predecessor, Ariel Sharon, suffered a debilitating stroke. Olmert delivered the news of his illness calmly, speaking for about three minutes before leaving the room and giving the podium to his doctors.
The announcement came at a delicate time in Mideast peacemaking, just weeks ahead of a U.S.-brokered summit designed to relaunch long stalled peace talks. It was not clear how or if Olmert’s illness would affect his already troubled efforts to frame a common outline with the Palestinians ahead of the conference, scheduled to take place in Annapolis, Maryland, in November or December.
One of Olmert’s doctors, Shlomo Segev, said the prime minister had a biopsy on Oct. 19 and got the results a week later. He said the cancer showed up in only one of 12 samples taken from Olmert’s prostate.