By John Lauritsen


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One day after fainting during the State of the State address, Gov. Mark Dayton revealed that he is fighting prostate cancer.

The governor told reporters Tuesday that he will be going through additional tests at Rochester’s Mayo Clinic, and he expects to learn more next week.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer that men get. In fact, a urologist says yearly screenings for Dayton should have begun when he was 50 years old.

And those yearly check-ups can mean the difference between life and death.

“He’s a very resilient man,” said Dr. Peter Sershon. “Just the fact that he can govern the state and still go through these health issues.”

Dr. Sershon is impressed with Dayton’s outlook, despite him undergoing hip and back surgeries over the years — and now being diagnosed with cancer.

“I would say because he was checked, the odds of him having a cancer that is incurable is going to be very low,” Dr. Sershon said.

Dayton said in Tuesday’s press conference he learned he had cancer during his annual physical examination. A biopsy done last Wednesday confirmed the diagnosis.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Dayton said the tumor was not there a year ago, and because of that, Dr. Sershon believes the governor should be optimistic.

“He’s at the age where a lot of different options could work out very well for him. But the real issue is does he need treatment at all? And that’s where screening comes in,” Dr. Sershon said. “You pick up slow-moving cancers, you can monitor them to see if they become more aggressive.”

Dayton, who turns 70 on Thursday, called the diagnosis grim but not that uncommon. And he told reporters that he plans on finishing his term as governor.

Dr. Sershon does not see any reason why that cannot happen.

“The real message is he got checked every year, he got it picked up early. So all the options for prostate cancer are now available to him,” Dr. Sershon said.

And those treatments could range from surgery to have the cancer removed, to radiation, or simply just monitoring it for now.

Dr. Sershon does not believe that cancer had anything to do with the fainting episode the governor went through at Monday night’s State of the State address. In a statement released Tuesday, Mayo Clinic officials say they agree.

“Mayo Clinic believes this episode was situational and related to standing for a long time while giving his speech and possible dehydration. It is not related to his prostate cancer diagnosis,” said Mayo Clinic officials.

John Lauritsen