Former U.S. Bob Dole, the elder statesman of Kansas Republican politics, has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, the 97-year-old said in a statement Thursday.
Dole, who represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1996 and who ran for president in 1996, said he will begin treatment Monday.
“While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges on their own,” Dole said in a statement.
About 40% of all lung cancer diagnoses fall into the stage four bracket, according to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. The five-year survival rate for those diagnoses is 10%.
U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, who holds the seat formerly occupied by Dole, said in a statement, “I have not known a better public servant” than his mentor.
“I have zero doubt in my mind Senator Dole will take this challenge head on the same way as other challenges he faced in his life,” Marshall said. “Just as he did as one of the heroes from our greatest generation, in this battle, Senator Dole will continue to show us the way through hope, resiliency, and perseverance.”
Dole was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1961, serving eight years before being elected to the U.S. Senate. He would not leave that body until resigning in 1996 to focus on his presidential campaign, a race he eventually lost to Bill Clinton.
For the final decade of his Senate career, Dole served as the Republican floor leader, including three years as Senate majority leader. He also served as chair of the Republican National Committee from 1971 to 1973.
He has maintained a low public profile in recent years, although Dole was the lone former presidential nominee to attend the 2016 Republican National Convention. He also made campaign appearances by phone for Marshall in November.
Dole has encountered health issues, including hospitalizations at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in 2012 and again in 2017. In 2001, he underwent surgery to treat an aneurysm.