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Tauzin diagnosed with cancer

Full recovery expected for congressman

From Ted Barrett
CNN Washington Bureau

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U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin will have surgery next week, a spokesman said.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Retiring U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-Louisiana, has been diagnosed with a rare form of intestinal cancer, a spokesman said.

He will be operated on next week at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and is expected to recover, spokesman Ken Johnson said Tuesday.

"His doctors have assured him he'll live a long, healthy and productive life," Johnson said.

Signs that Tauzin, 60, had a stomach problem have been evident in recent months. He was hospitalized twice this winter with bleeding ulcers that never healed.

On Friday, he underwent a series of tests at Bethesda Naval Hospital that showed a problem. He got a second opinion at Johns Hopkins and was diagnosed with cancer of the duodenum, the entry into the upper intestine, according to Johnson.

"It still came as a big shock when finally diagnosed," Johnson said. "He's feeling great and upbeat about the procedure and his long-term prognosis."

Tauzin informed House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, of his condition and will take a 30-day medical leave of absence from his duties on Capitol Hill. After the operation next Wednesday, he will spend about 10 days in the hospital, followed by two weeks of recovery at home, Johnson said.

Tauzin was recently the center of a flap on Capitol Hill.

Democrats had criticized Tauzin, who until last month was chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, for considering an offer to become a top pharmaceutical lobbyist shortly after negotiating the Medicare prescription drug bill. Many Democrats said the legislation favored the drug industry over senior citizens.

Late last month, Johnson announced the congressman had turned the job down, saying the issue had "become a monumental distraction."

"Perhaps Nancy Pelosi will now realize that Billy's decision to retire from Congress had more to do with getting well physically than getting well financially," Johnson said in a pointed reference to the House Democratic leader.

Pelosi had been openly critical of Tauzin for considering the lucrative job with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing Association, PhRMA.


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