Okla. US Sen. Coburn has prostate cancer surgery

October 11, 2011 - 3:35 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn is expected to make a full recovery after undergoing surgery for prostate cancer in Tulsa, a spokesman for the Oklahoma lawmaker said Tuesday.

The Republican's cancer was detected in an early stage and he underwent surgery Monday, spokesman John Hart said.

"He is expected to make a full recovery and return to his full-time duties later this month," Hart said in a statement. He declined to release details.

Coburn, 63, a physician from Muskogee, revealed in 2003 that he had been diagnosed with colon cancer and had undergone surgery and chemotherapy. He told a reporter at the time, "you should be writing about Medicaid and Medicare instead of my health."

Coburn also was treated for malignant melanoma in 1975, and had a benign tumor removed from his pituitary gland in 2007. He also was tested for an irregular heartbeat in 2008.

A fierce critic of what he calls excessive government spending, Coburn joined the bipartisan "Gang of Six" senators during debate over the debt ceiling this summer. He supported an alternative plan to cut the deficit by almost $4 trillion over the coming decade through a combination of budget cuts and increased revenue through changes to the tax code.

A former member of the U.S. House, Coburn kept his pledge to leave Congress after three terms and returned full time to his medical practice in Muskogee. He ran for Senate in 2004, and was re-elected to a second term last year. He has promised not to run again in 2016.

"Tom is a dear friend, and my thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery are with the Coburn family," U.S. Rep. John Sullivan said in a statement. "Oklahomans are lucky to have a fighter like Tom Coburn represent them in the U.S. Senate and I look forward to seeing Tom back at work soon."

Coburn's surgery was first reported in The Oklahoman.