Warren Buffett has prostate cancer, sees no danger

Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:49am EDT
 
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By Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) - Berkshire Hathaway Inc Chief Executive Warren Buffett said he has stage 1 prostate cancer but his condition "is not remotely life-threatening or even debilitating in any meaningful way."

Buffett, the world's third-richest man, will begin a two-month treatment consisting of daily radiation treatments starting in mid-July, he said in a statement on Tuesday. This will limit his ability to travel during that time, Buffett added.

The news from the 81-year-old "Oracle of Omaha" is likely to intensify the already brewing debate about the succession plan at Berkshire Hathaway, a conglomerate that employs more than 270,000 people in more than 70 businesses around the world.

Doctors say he has a very good prognosis, given the disease's early stage, though some questioned whether he even needed treatment at all given his age.

Buffett told investors in late February that Berkshire had identified his successor, but in typically circumspect fashion, declined to say who it was - and ultimately admitted that even the chosen one does not know, himself.

The news comes one day after Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked the "Buffett rule," a tax on millionaires whose idea was born of a now-famous editorial Buffett wrote in the New York Times last year, saying the rich had an obligation to pay more income tax.

That debate ensnared Buffett's secretary as well. After Buffett said she paid more taxes than he did, President Barack Obama invited Debbie Bosanek to attend this year's State of the Union address.

Berkshire shares fell 1.5 percent in after-hours trading following Buffett's announcement. The widely held Class B shares are up 5.9 percent year-to-date, half the gains of the broader S&P 500.   Continued...

 
Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett attends the second day of the Allen and Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho July 7, 2011. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante