Israel's PM has prostate cancer

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The Independent Online

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert revealed today he is fighting prostate cancer, but the disease is not threatening his life.

Mr Olmert, who took office in March 2006 and who is 62, said he would continue to work as normal.

The announcement comes at a delicate time in Middle East peace negotiations, just weeks ahead of a US-brokered summit designed to relaunch long-stalled talks.

It was not clear if Mr Olmert's illness would affect his already troubled efforts to frame a common outline with the Palestinians ahead of the conference, scheduled to take place in Annapolis, Maryland in either November or December.

The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland beneath the base of the penis that makes seminal fluid.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer. In most men, it grows so slowly that it will never threaten their lives.

The primary risk factor is age, with the disease commonly striking after a man is after 50.

It can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy and occasionally chemotherapy, among other treatments.

Mr Olmert, who first entered parliament in 1973, was suddenly catapulted into the prime minister's seat after Ariel Sharon was hit by a second stroke which has left him in a coma.