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Buffett diagnosed with prostate cancer

PTI New York | Updated on November 20, 2017 Published on April 18, 2012

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Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer but sought to assure his shareholders that his condition is not “remotely” life-threatening and he feels “great” with “100 per cent” energy level.

The announcement by Mr Buffett, who according to Forbes’ billionaire list is the third richest man in the world, is expected to put the spotlight on the succession plan at his company Berkshire Hathaway.

In a letter to his shareholders, the 81-year old philanthropist said he was diagnosed with “stage I prostate cancer” on April 11 and will begin a two-month treatment of daily radiation in July.

The disclosure by Mr Buffett comes just three weeks before Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting scheduled for May 5 in his hometown of Omaha.

“The good news is that I have been told by my doctors that my condition is not remotely life threatening or even debilitating in any meaningful way,” he said.

Mr Buffett said he has had several medical tests, including a CAT scan and a bone scan last week followed by an MRI. The tests have shown no incidence of cancer elsewhere in his body.

The radiation treatment, which will begin in mid-July, would will restrict his travel during that period, but will not change his daily routine.

He did not say anything about stepping down as Berkshire’s chief in the wake of the diagnosis, indicating that he still plans to remain at the helm of affairs of his company.

Mr Buffett has been at the helm of Berkshire for nearly 50 years. It is one of America’s largest corporations, with a market value of nearly $201 billion.

Mr Buffett, whose net worth is estimated at $44 billion, had for the first time in February said in his annual letter to shareholders that he had chosen a successor.

He, however, had not named the candidate.

Contenders for the top job

Indian-origin Ajit Jain, head of the company’s reinsurance operations, is one of the leading candidates to succeed Mr Buffett and head an empire that includes insurance business, railroad operator and several other diversified companies.

Apart from Mr Jain, the other two top contenders are Mr Matthew Rose, Chief of Burlington Northern Santa Fe; and Mr Tad Montross, leader of the General Re insurance subsidiary.

On his condition, Mr Buffett said in the letter, “I feel great — as if I were in my normal excellent health — and my energy level is 100 per cent. I discovered the cancer because my PSA — prostate specific antigen level (an indicator my doctors had regularly checked for many years) recently jumped beyond its normal elevation and a biopsy seemed warranted.”

He said he will inform his shareholders immediately “should my health situation change. Eventually, of course, it will; but I believe that day is a long way off“.

Being in the first stage, Mr Buffett’s cancer has been detected very early and has not spread beyond the prostate gland, which is slightly larger than a walnut.

According to the American Cancer Society, other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. As per 2012 estimates in the US, about 241,740 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed and about 28,170 men could die of the disease this year.

About 1 man in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. The National Cancer Institute said the 10-year survival rate for men with localised disease is 99.5 per cent.

Published on April 18, 2012
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