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House Majority Leader Steve Scalise says he has multiple myeloma. The rare blood cancer is treatable but often returns after going into remission.

US House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise listens during a press conference following a House Republican Conference meeting.
US House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
  • House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said he has multiple myeloma.

  • It's a rare blood cancer that can be treated for years but currently is not curable.

  • Scalise said he got blood work this week after not feeling like himself.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said in a statement on Twitter on Tuesday that he has a rare blood cancer called multiple myeloma.

"After a few days of not feeling like myself this past week, I had some bloodwork done. The results uncovered some irregularities and after undergoing additional tests, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a very treatable blood cancer," Scalise said in the statement.

Scalise said he has "begun treatment, which will continue for the next several months." He added that he will work during the treatment period and plans to return to Washington, DC.

"I am incredibly grateful we were able to detect this early and that this cancer is treatable," the Louisiana Republican said. "I will tackle this with the same strength and energy as I have tackled past challenges."

While Scalise said that his cancer is treatable, according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, multiple myeloma is "currently not curable, but we can manage the disease effectively for years."

E. Anders Kolb, M.D., President & CEO of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, told Insider in a statement that there is "currently no cure for this disease" but that "it is treatable if detected early enough." It remains unclear how early Scalise's cancer diagnosis was detected.

Kolb added that "countless treatment advances have proven effective in reducing symptoms, slowing disease progression, and prolonging life while preserving a patient's quality of life."

Treatments for the cancer could include "chemotherapy, proteasome inhibitors, immune-modifying drugs or other medications, or stem cell transplantation," MSKCC said.

The treatments can help bring the cancer into remission, but it will often return, MSKCC said.

"Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that affects a person's plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cell found in the bone marrow," Kolb said. "Healthy plasma cells produce antibodies, which help fight infection."

"Unfortunately, if left untreated, myeloma cells can multiply and continue to grow in a person's bone marrow," he added. "When left untreated, these cancer cells can limit the body's ability to fight infection, cause kidney damage and lead to bone pain and debilitating fractures."

According to MSKCC, there were 35,000 cases of multiple myeloma in the US in 2022, and the number of cases is rising with time.

Scalise has overcome serious health issues in the past.

In June 2017, the congressman was gravely wounded after a gunman opened fire at a Republican practice for the Congressional Baseball Game. The shooter, James T. Hodgkinson, was killed after exchanging gunfire with police.

Scalise was shot in the hip and endured numerous surgeries to deal with fractured bones, injuries to his internal organs, and severe bleeding.

"I'm definitely a living example that miracles really do happen," he told his House colleagues during an emotional return to the chamber three months after the shooting.

Read the original article on Business Insider