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CODY, Wyo. (AP) – Retired U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

But Simpson indicated that the cancer was not considered life-threatening, saying the cancer was caught in its early stages and was “not aggressive.”

“The cure rate is high,” said Simpson, a Republican from Cody who served 18 years in the Senate before leaving in 1996.

Simpson told The Cody Enterprise that the cancer was found earlier this month in a routine checkup and physical at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

SIMPSON

He was having follow-up tests this week in Houston.

Simpson said he has had regular tests for prostate cancer in recent years, recounting how former senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole “was forcing us all to get the test” after Dole was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Simpson urges all men age 50 and older to get tested for prostate cancer on a regular basis.

“Don’t mess around, and don’t try to get advice from friends,” he said. “Just get it.

“If I’m to be the poster boy for early detection, I would very much enjoy that role.”

Prostate cancer is particularly dangerous, he said, because there are no physical signs and pain until it reaches aggressive stages.

“The test saved my life.”

Simpson, who will be 70 on Sept. 3, said “there are many, many people in the country who have it and don’t know.”

In recent days he has a sought a great deal of advice from others who have had prostate cancer, he said.

Upon learning that he has prostate cancer, some “have jumped in the air like my poor family did,” he said. “But it’s not that terrible.”

He said he has also had occasion to visit with people “dying of much worse things and dealing with it so courageously. That puts it in perspective.

“The only time I’ve gotten teary is when I realize how many people are looking out for me,” Simpson said.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 198,100 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. One man in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, but only one in 30 will die of the disease.

In 1998, 32,203 died of the cancer, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

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