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Mayor Ford diagnosed with rare form of cancer, doctors ‘optimistic’

Michael Talbot | posted Wednesday, Sep 17th, 2014

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Rob Ford has been diagnosed with a rare form of abdominal cancer, but the mayor’s Mount Sinai colorectal surgeon said he’s “optimistic” it can be treated and says it hasn’t spread to any organs.

Initial treatment will consist of two rounds of chemotherapy, starting within the next 48 hours.

“The diagnosis is a malignant liposarcoma,” Dr. Zane Cohen confirmed. “It’s fairly aggressive, but we are treating this very aggressively in order to eradicate the tumour.”

Cohen said he’s “optimistic about this tumour” because it is responsive to chemotherapy, and Mount Sinai has one of the largest centres in Ontario to deal with sarcomas.

“This particular liposarcoma is more sensitive to chemotherapy than most sarcomas,” he said. “We will be able to say more after the (chemotherapy treatment).”

The type of tumour Ford has “comprises about one per cent only of all cancers,” Dr. Cohen revealed, adding that it originates in soft tissue, like fatty tissue, rather than organs.

The abdominal tumour is 12-by-12 centimetres and Dr. Cohen said it has likely been growing for several years, although a CT scan in 2011 for a kidney stone didn’t reveal any masses.

“These types of tumours are often slow growing, to get to the size that it is now, it is often several years,” he added.

A small two centimetre cancerous nodule has also been found in the mayor’s buttock behind his left hip, and Dr. Cohen called it “part of the same tumour.”

The cancer diagnosis was made with a second biopsy on Monday, after the first one from last week proved inconclusive.

“Depending on his (response to chemotherapy we’ll decide) what we do next,” he added. “He may require further cycles of chemotherapy.”

Cohen said other possible treatment options following chemotherapy include radiation and surgery.

In the meantime, political strategist Jim Warren says Ford insiders tell him Doug Ford will remain in the mayoral race.

“He will remain in the race because it gives Rob hope to fight through the chemotherapy … and literally have the fight of his life,” he told CityNews.

Doug Ford released a statement shortly after Dr. Cohen made the diagnosis public.

“Rob will beat this,” he said.

“He is an incredible person, husband, father, brother and son and he remains upbeat and determined to fight this.”

“Rob has always been so strong for all of us and now I ask us to be strong for him.”

Doug Ford’s rivals in the race to be Toronto’s next mayor were quick to respond to the cancer diagnosis.

Olivia Chow, who lost her husband Jack Layton to cancer in August 2011, said Ford should embrace the public’s support as doctors work to fight the aggressive disease.

“I know what it’s like when a family receives bad news, but I also know the strength that the support and warm wishes can give to you,” she said. “I hope the Ford family can feel that warmth that envelopes them right now.”

“I know that Rob Ford is strong, he’s a fighter.”

John Tory, who leads the mayoral race in the latest polls added: “Mayor Ford is a husband, a son, a brother a father, and I extend my best wishes and my continuing deep concern and my thoughts and prayers for a full and speedy recovery.”

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