Henry Cisneros diagnosed with prostate cancer
n this June 6, 2012, photo, Henry Cisneros waits for an interview in San Antonio. Cisneros, who served as housing secretary under President Bill Clinton, says he has been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer but expects to beat the disease with nine weeks of radiation therapy. (AP photo)

Henry Cisneros, former San Antonio mayor and former housing secretary under President Bill Clinton, announced he has been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer.

The Associated Press reports 65-year-old Cisneros is expecting to beat the disease within 9 months with radiation therapy. He has opted to receive treatments despite doctor warnings that side effects could be worse than the cancer itself.

“The cancer doesn’t bother me,” he told San Antonio-Express News. “I have great faith that the technology will beat it.”

As a leader still involved with immigrant communities and urban development, Cisneros says it was important for him to come forward about his condition in an effort to encourage more men — Hispanics and blacks in particular — to receive prostate exams.

According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, with an estimated 241,740 new cases in 2012 alone. It is the second leading cause of death in men, surpassed only by lung cancer.

The disease occurs when cancer cells multiply in the prostate, the walnut-sized gland wrapped around the urethra. Small tumors are usually asymptomatic and go unnoticed unless discovered through a prostate examination. More advanced prostate cancer can cause:

  • Delayed or slowed urine stream
  • Leakage of urine, usually after going to the bathroom
  • Straining while urinating
  • Inability to empty the bladder completely
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Lower back or pelvic pain
Henry Cisneros has prostate cancer
In this June 12, 2012, photo, Dr. Michael A. Selva, left, a radiation oncologist, answers questions from Henry Cisneros and his wife, Mary Alice, before his daily radiation treatment at San Antonio Center for Cancer Treatment in San Antonio. Cisneros, who served as housing secretary under President Bill Clinton, says he has been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer but expects to beat the disease with nine weeks of radiation therapy. (Ap photo)

Men with suspicious areas on prostate screenings are sent for biopsies to confirm or deny the presence of cancer. The cells are evaluated under a microscope and graded based on their pattern of appearance.

Those with early-stage prostate cancer, such as Henry Cisneros, often do not need aggressive treatment because of how slow growing the cancer tends to be. In these situations, the radiation therapy can cause more issues than the disease.

Men at high risk for the condition include:

  • Men over the age of 60
  • African-Americans
  • Men with a family history of prostate cancer
  • Individuals with heavy alcohol consumption
  • Those with a diet high in animal fat
  • Those with exposure to certain chemicals; farmers, tire workers, painters

If caught by regular prostate screenings, prostate cancer has an excellent survival rate, with over 2 million men in the United States counted as survivors of the condition. Five- and ten-year survival rates are almost 100 percent.

According to the report, Cisneros is not experiencing any side effects from treatment thus far, and the former mayor continues to work in San Antonio with a company focused on urban development.

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