A year after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday that he is cancer free, as he encouraged Minnesotans to get the same kind of screenings that helped him catch the disease before it spread.
In a news conference with cancer survivors, advocates and medical professionals, the governor proclaimed "Cancer Screen Week" in the state, and offered up his personal story.
Dayton, 70, said he had no obvious symptoms when doctors found a tumor during a routine annual physical late last year. He announced the diagnosis in January, a day after he collapsed while delivering his State of the State speech — an incident he said doctors did not believe was related to his cancer.
The DFL governor later underwent surgery and said his recent appointments have shown that the treatment removed the cancer and stopped it from spreading. He said it's clear the routine screening last year prevented the disease from spiraling into a much more serious problem.
"I'm a believer — I know from firsthand experience that early detection is absolutely crucial," he said. "It's the difference between life and death."
Other speakers at the event encouraged people to get recommended screenings for breast, cervical and colon cancers, along with other diseases. They said most health care providers recommend that women get mammograms once they turn 50 and cervical cancer screening after age 21. All adults should get screening tests for colorectal cancer after age 50.
Ellie Beaver, Minnesota government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said screenings can prompt people to get important treatment — and calm some fears about having serious health problems.
"Screening tests can relieve anxiety in a time when information overload can make us worry we are experiencing signs we found on the internet," she said.