Sep 18, 2014 12:15 AM

Doctor: Ford to undergo 40 days of chemotherapy

The Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) Doctors say Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will undergo 40 days of chemotherapy to treat a rare and difficult-to-beat cancer that forced him to drop his bid for re-election.

Dr. Zane Cohen, a colorectal surgeon at Mount Sinai hospital, said Wednesday Ford has a malignant liposarcoma. Ford has been hospitalized for a week with a tumor in his abdomen and the news of the cancer comes just days after Ford's dramatic announcement that he was pulling out of a re-election campaign.

Cohen said the cancer is spreading and that they have found "a small nodule in the buttock" near the left hip. He said the mayor will be treated with fairly intensive chemotherapeutic agents within the next two days.

"The plan will be, initially, chemotherapy," Cohen said. "We think it's fairly an aggressive tumor."

He said Ford had a CT scan in 2011 and there was no sign of the tumor then. "But we're treating this very aggressively in order to eradicate the tumor."

The doctor said Ford's cancer makes up only about one percent of all cancers but said he was optimistic about Ford's treatment because they have many experts in sarcoma at the hospital. He said Ford will get two cycles of chemotherapy over the next 40 days in an effort to shrink the tumor, and then they'll assess. He said surgery may or may not be necessary.

"We are optimistic about treatment. This particular liposarcoma is more sensitive to chemotherapy than most sarcomas," Cohen said.

Cohen said the tumor is about 12 centimeters (5 inches) by 12 centimeters (5 inches) and is about two or three years old. It hasn't spread to organs, he said.

Liposarcoma is a type of soft tissue cancer that begins in fat cells, or fatty tissue, and occurs most often in older adults. A sarcoma is a soft-tissue cancer that can occur anywhere in the body and that often is encapsulated, or contained within a pouch of tissue. Soft tissue includes muscles, tendons, fat and blood vessels, and treatment varies depending on the size, stage and location of the tumor, among other things.

The mayor withdrew his re-election bid Friday, dramatically ending a campaign he had doggedly pursued despite calls for him to quit amid drug and alcohol scandals and a stint in rehab.

Doug Ford, who is running for mayor in his brother's place, said the mayor is crushed.

"My brother has been diagnosed with cancer and I can't begin to share how devastating this has been for Rob and our family," Doug Ford said in a statement. "He is an incredible person, husband, father, brother and son and he remains upbeat and determined to fight this."

Doug said the kind words and well wishes mean a lot to his brother.

"Rob will beat this," Doug Ford said.

Neither the mayor nor his family were with the doctor when the announcement was made.

"We have a lot of faith in the doctors and we have a lot of faith in God," Ford's wife Renata said before the public announcement.

The mayor, who has two kids under the age of 10, checked himself into a hospital last week after complaining of stomach pain while eating breakfast with his brother. Cohen said he remains in pain but they are managing it.

"He may be able to work through it. I think that he will be able to be functional, but he's going to have some rough days," Cohen said.

He said the initial biopsy came back inconclusive but a second biopsy revealed the cancer.

Ford's father, Doug Ford Sr., died in 2006 at of colon cancer at the age of 73 three months after he was diagnosed with the disease.

Ford, 45, gained international notoriety last year when the Toronto Star and the U.S. website Gawker reported the existence of a video apparently showing the mayor inhaling from a crack pipe. He denied the existence of the video for months but finally admitted to using crack in a "drunken stupor" after police announced they had obtained a copy. When reports emerged this year of a second video showing him apparently smoking crack, Ford entered rehab for two months and returned to work and campaigning in June.

The Fords announced last week that Doug Ford will now run for mayor and Rob will seek a City Council seat representing a district in his home suburb of Etobicoke, where Rob's brash everyman style and conservative fiscal policies first gained a faithful following that became known as Ford Nation.

Doug Ford hasn't started campaigning for the Oct. 27 election since he announced he would run for mayor.

Olivia Chow, who is running to replace Ford, said she wished Ford and his family well and said she knows Rob is strong.

"Since he's so strong and he's such a good fighter I hope he can win this battle," said Chow, who is a cancer survivor.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that he was "deeply saddened today to learn that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer and that he will have to undergo chemotherapy."

"The thoughts and prayers of all Canadians are with Mr. Ford and his family at this difficult time," Harper said. "We wish him a speedy and complete recovery and are certain that he will take on this fight with all of his characteristic tenacity and energy."


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