Sen. Mazie Hirono to undergo treatment for kidney cancer

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D, Hawaii

“Got out of surgery and doing okay! Thank you everyone for the well wishes!” – Sen. Mazie Hirono’s staff via Twitter

Sen. Mazie Hirono announced Tuesday morning that she plans to undergo treatment for kidney cancer.

Hirono said in a statement that the cancer was discovered during a routine pre-operative physical for an eye surgery when her doctor came upon an abnormality in her chest X-ray. After a series of tests, the Hawaii senator was diagnosed with kidney cancer, which is also present in her seventh rib.

She said, “My treatment is being overseen by one of the preeminent kidney cancer specialists in the country at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. He has designed a comprehensive treatment plan – including surgery to remove my right kidney and an innovative, non-invasive, outpatient procedure called Cyberknife to eradicate the lesion on my rib. At the conclusion of this treatment, there will be no identifiable disease left untreated.”

The cancer is stage 4, and Hirono will undergo surgery Wednesday to remove a kidney.

The senator says her doctor expects she will make a full recovery from these treatments.

Hirono says she will keep her fighting spirit through the treatment: “I face this fight with the same determination I’ve fought for the people of Hawaii. And I never quit, especially when things get tough. I appreciate your support and good wishes, and look forward to getting back to the Senate to continue fighting for Hawaii as soon as possible.”

More about kidney cancer

We asked Dr. Randall Holcombe, director of the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, is it common for kidney cancer to spread to the rib?

“Kidney cancer can spread to lots of different places. It can spread to the ribs, to the lungs. It can spread to the liver, so all of these are possible, and she has had a full examination and the only spot that they found was in this seventh rib,” Holcombe said.

Holcombe says kidney cancer is not the most common cancer in Hawaii. Breast cancer is most common for women and prostate cancer is most common for men.

“Kidney cancer is rarer in Hawaii than it is across the rest of the United States. We actually rank 49th out of 50 states in the incident rate of kidney cancer, though some populations are affected more than others here,” Holcombe said. “For men, whites and people of Japanese heritage tend to get kidney cancer more commonly than other groups, and for women, Native Hawaiians, people from Japanese heritage, and whites tend to get kidney cancer more often than others.”

Kidney cancer can be silent, but symptoms could include persistent back pain and blood in your urine.

“This is a stage 4 cancer. The fortunate thing is that it appears that this is the only spot of disease that has spread out of the kidney, so they plan to do surgery for the kidney, and to treat that rib lesion with focused radiation treatments,” Holcombe said.

Messages of support

“I join all of Hawaii in wishing Senator Hirono a rapid recovery. Mazie’s courage and fortitude are matched only by her love for our State and people. I look forward to continuing to work together with Mazie on the issues that reflect our Hawaii values and priorities.” — U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz

“I send my warmest aloha, prayers and well wishes for a quick recovery to Senator Hirono as she undergoes treatment for kidney cancer. I talked with Mazie today, and she was upbeat and fearless as she takes on this fight. I look forward to seeing Mazie back at the Capitol soon to continue our work together on behalf of the people of Hawaii.” — U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

“Mazie is a fighter, and I know that she brings that spirit to this latest challenge. Dawn and I pray for Senator Mazie Hirono’s full recovery and we send our best wishes to her and her family.” — Gov. David Ige

“On behalf of the Hawaii State Senate, our thoughts and prayers go out to Senator Hirono and her family at this difficult time. It is hoped that Senator Hirono’s tremendous grit, determination, and indomitable spirit that has served the people of Hawaii so well, will be galvanized by our support and well wishes.” — Sen. Ron Kouchi, State Senate President

“The members of the Hawaii House of Representatives send our best wishes for a speedy recovery to Senator Mazie Hirono as she battles kidney cancer. Senator Hirono is both strong in spirit and in her efforts to represent the people of Hawaii. We send our thoughts and prayers to her and her family.” — Rep. Scott Saiki, State House Speaker

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