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Ald. Burke expects full recovery after prostate cancer surgery

Ald. Ed Burke will undergo prostate cancer surgery Thursday. |  AP Photo

Ald. Ed Burke will undergo prostate cancer surgery on Thursday. | AP Photo

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Updated: July 26, 2014 6:27AM

Ald. Edward Burke (14th) likes to joke that there are only three ways to leave the Chicago City Council: “the ballot box, the jury box or the pine box.”

Burke is not imminently facing either of those fates despite a prostate cancer diagnosis that his him facing surgery on Thursday, medical experts say.

Dr. Marcus Quek, an associate professor of urology at Loyola Medical Center, said the fact that Burke’s doctors chose to perform a radical prostatectomy — removal of the prostate and some of the lymph nodes in the area — is proof that Burke’s cancer was caught early.

“Surgery is typically reserved for men who have, what we think is localized prostate cancer who potentially could be cured of the disease with surgery. It has not yet spread elsewhere,” Quek said.

Quek dismissed speculation that Burke has stage 4 cancer, noting, “Stage 4 implies that disease is spread to other areas of his body and is no longer curable. In that case, you would not do a prostatectomy because removal of the prostate would not impact his survival because disease has already spread elsewhere.”

Quek said Burke is likely to be hospitalized for a day or two, have a catheter for a week or two, and be advised to avoid strenuous activity for about a month.

But he said, “Following surgery, he should be able to resume his normal activities. There may be a period of time of recovery, of course. It may take a while for him to get his stamina back. But ultimately, I wouldn’t anticipate anything that would not allow him to get back to work” and seek re-election.

Burke, the City Council’s 70-year-old dean and Finance Committee chairman, is counting on it.

“Several weeks ago during a routine physical, it was discovered that my [Prostate-Specific Antigen] level was elevated. Further tests revealed that, like hundreds of thousands of other men, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer,” Burke said Tuesday, reading from a statement.

“I’ve opted for surgical treatment, which will be performed on Thursday. With faith in God and trust in my doctors, I’m confident of full recovery. After a period of recuperation, I expect to be able to return to a normal schedule. My family and I are grateful for the many messages of support and prayer from friends and well-wishers. My experience is an example of why men should receive PSA testing.”

Burke was asked twice whether he forsees any circumstances under which he would not stand for re-election on Feb. 24. He simply urged reporters to “respect my privacy as I deal with this health issue.”

Burke is the son of a ward boss who succeeded his father in 1969 after Joseph Burke died of lung cancer. It’s a disease that prompted Edward Burke to crusade against smoking, proposing a string of trailblazing ordinances that culminated in the 2005 decision to ban smoking in virtually all of indoor Chicago.

He has served under eight Chicago mayors and survived numerous federal investigations, including a ghost payrolling probe known as “Operation Haunted Hall” that resulted in nearly three dozen guilty pleas, including employees carried on the Finance Committee payroll. Burke’s power stems from his role as Finance Committee chairman and chairman of judicial slatemaking for the Cook County Democratic Party. Dozens of judges owe their seats on the bench to Burke, whose wife, Anne, is a justice on the Illinois Supreme Court.


Twitter: @fspielman

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