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Mark Dayton's cancer is 'curable,' so this morning he's back to work on clean water

Mark Dayton's cancer was detected early and is "curable," so he's getting back to work.

Mark Dayton's cancer was detected early and is "curable," so he's getting back to work. Glenn Stubbe, Star Tribune

From the start, Gov. Mark Dayton has always seemed the Minnesotan least concerned about the governor's health.

There was enough nervous chatter after an alarming fainting episode brought his State of the State to an abrupt end last week. The following day, without warning, Dayton presented his initial budget proposal for his final two years in office, delivered the unfinished portion of his speech from the previous night... an -- oh yeah, almost forgot -- mentioned to reporters that he's got a bit of prostate cancer

More than 160,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in an average year, and the ailment is blamed for more than 25,000 annual deaths.  

Dayton, who just turned 70, was upbeat, and downright jocular about staying on as governor. "As far as I know," he said, "there are no brain cells in my prostate."

(Insert joke about a president with his head up his own ass.) 

Dayton has the good fortune to have a home and office within a couple hours of the Mayo Clinic, which he visited Tuesday and Wednesday this week. The key factor with beating prostate cancer is whether the cancer has spread, and how far. If confined to the prostate, the survival rate is approaching 100 percent, according to the American Cancer Society; if it's spread to lymph nodes, bones, or organs, your chances of living another five years drop to 28 percent.

"Extensive diagnostic tests" showed "no signs" that Dayton's cancer has spread, spokesman Linden Zakula announced Thursday. 

Mayo spokesman Karl Oesterich backed up the optimistic view, saying the second-and-final-term governor "should be able to carry on his duties serving the citizens of Minnesota without significant interruption."

Said Oesterich: "Governor Mark Dayton’s prostate cancer was caught early and is localized, treatable and curable. His Mayo Clinic physicians have discussed several treatment options with the Governor and he is in the process of making his decision."

Dayton must pick between surgery and radiation, and is expected to announce which course he chooses in the next few days. 

But first, it's back to work. At 9:00 a.m. this morning, Dayton will speak at the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus as part of an "Environmental Congress." In his speech, Dayton will unveil new benchmarks for clean water in the state, an issue that has in recent years become a central theme for Dayton's last years in office.

The budget proposal he unveiled last week -- after fainting but before cancer, if you're keeping score -- would invest hundreds of millions of dollars in water quality projects across Minnesota, including $214 million for local governments to improve and protect groundwater and drinking water from pollution, and another $80 million for infrastructure upgrades on water treatment delivery systems.