JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST Oct. 29, 2007
The conference was called after Olmert learned of his condition at the end of last week.
Olmert, 62, said that in recent years he has taken care to undergo a complete annual physical, mainly to allow the early detection of any disorders. Upon returning from a visit to Russia 10 days ago, he said, he was examined. The exam showed the first signs of prostate cancer.
The prime minister described the growth as "microscopic," and said he had been assured by his doctors that it could be removed surgically. Furthermore, Olmert said, he had been told he would not need radiation or chemotherapy. Olmert said that his doctors had assured him he could make a full recovery.
Olmert stressed that his condition would not in any way affect his ability to manage his duties as prime minister, and that he had no intention of stepping down. He added that despite the fact that the prime minister has no legal obligation to reveal any medical condition, he had decided to do so because the citizens of Israel "had a right to know."
"I decided to make a full and frank disclosure shortly after learning [of my condition,]" Olmert said.
As soon as reports began circulating, prior to the press conference, that
Olmert would publicly address a health problem, the nation's leading stocks
dropped some 10 percent.
On an average day six Israelis are diagnosed with prostate cancer and one dies of it, according to the Israel Cancer Association, which held its second annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Day in September.
'Every man aged 50 and over must recognize the symptoms,' said ICA chairman Prof. Eliezer Robinson. 'Don't die of shame. Go to your doctor.'Each year some 2,250 Israelis are diagnosed with prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men, and 380 are killed. Risk increases with age and a family history of the disease (if your father, brother or son had prostate cancer, you are twice as likely to have it).
Smoking, drinking alcohol and an improper diet are also suspected as increasing risk. A new study published in the International Journal of Cancer links prostate cancer in its most aggressive form with being overweight or obese.
Because the type of tumor in prostate cancer develops slowly, 'every Israeli male should be aware of the disease and be examined,' Robinson said. 'There is no need to be ashamed. Diagnosis on time and treatment save lives.'
Mass screening for prostate cancer, however, is not recommended for all men since it has not been proven to reduce mortality. But men who are at high risk should get annual blood tests from the age of 40.
The PSA test, or prostate-specific antigen, checks the amount of a protein produced in cells of the prostate gland that is released into the bloodstream. The higher the PSA reading the more likely a man has prostate cancer. Rectal examinations and rectal ultrasound scans are also used to diagnose the disease.
For more information and a free booklet on prostate cancer, call the ICA at 1-800-599-995.
Free lectures on the disease will be held in September at the ICA's branches around the country, in cooperation with the Israel Urologists Society.
Judy Siegel-Itzkovitch contributed to this report.
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