Sen. Lautenberg has stomach cancer

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., smiles as he prepares to vote in the general election in Cliffside Park, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Mike Derer)

February 19, 2010 6:32:47 PM PST
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, the nation's second oldest U.S. senator, has curable lymphoma of the stomach, his office said Friday. The 86-year-old Lautenberg will undergo six to eight chemotherapy treatments and should make a "full and complete recovery," said Dr. James Holland of New York City's Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Lautenberg was taken to the hospital Monday after his office said he fell. The office said Tuesday the senator was treated for a bleeding ulcer, and Gray said Friday the lymphoma was found in the ulcer.

"We anticipate that he will receive between six and eight treatments, and in between treatments, the senator is expected to be back at work in the Senate," Lautenberg's office said.

"If there is anyone who wants to live longer than Moses, it's Frank Lautenberg," said Senate President and Former NJ Gov. Richard Codey.

Codey says Lautenberg's no nonsense attitude will be crucial in fighting the disease.

"When you're dealing with cancer, attitude is very important, and Frank's is, I'm gonna beat this sucker, and I'm sure he's cursed it a million times," added Codey.

His doctor, James Holland, says he expects a full recovery.

His fellow New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez agreed in a statement he made saying, "Frank Lautenberg is my friend and partner in the Senate, and if there's one thing I know about him, it's that he is New Jersey tough. Between his strength and his doctor's statements, I am confident that he won't miss a beat in continuing his crucial work in the Senate."

Lautenberg told The Star-Ledger of Newark late Friday that he underwent his first chemotherapy treatment earlier in the day and was "feeling very good."

Lautenberg said he intends to return to Washington to complete his term. "My contract goes to 2014," he said.

A resignation could hurt the Democratic Party. Under New Jersey law, Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, would be able to appoint a replacement if a senator left office.

After Christie was elected governor in November, some Democratic state lawmakers moved to change the way Senate vacancies are filled so the governor would have to name a replacement from the party of the departing senator. They did not adopt the change.

If there is a vacancy, the governor could name a replacement of his choice, call for a special election or leave the seat open until the next regular general election.

In the state's political circles Friday, there wasn't open talk of a Lautenberg resignation. Politicians of both parties wished him a quick recovery.