Arlen Specter seriously ill, hospitalized for cancer


Former senator Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Former senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania is being treated again for cancer, his office confirmed Tuesday.

Specter, 82, was recently diagnosed with an unspecified form of cancer, according to several published reports that cited sources and friends who said he was hospitalized Monday for a “serious illness” and “a big flare-up” of the new disease.

At his Philadelphia office Tuesday, spokeswoman Kathleen Harvey would only say that Specter was being treated for an unspecified form of cancer.

In a statement provided by Harvey, Specter said: “I’m battling cancer. It’s another battle I intend to win. I’m grateful for all the well-wishes I’ve received. I’m looking forward to getting back to work, to the comedy stage, to the squash court and to the ballpark.”

Specter previously has been treated for a brain tumor and twice for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, in 2005 and 2008.

He served in the Senate from 1981 to 2011 and has since relaunched his legal career, written a memoir and made occasional appearances at Philadelphia comedy clubs to muse about his days in the Senate and share his observations on Bill Clinton, former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell and other political figures. Before joining the Senate, he served two terms as Philadelphia district attorney.

In 2009, Specter switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democratic. He lost in the 2010 Democratic primary to Joe Sestak, who in turn lost to Republican Pat Toomey.

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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