ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Monday he is "100 percent cancer free" and in complete remission after receiving a PET scan earlier in the day at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Hogan, 59, announced at a news conference that he will continue to get scans on a regular basis and undergo preventive health maintenance.
"I'm in complete remission, but as is the case with this particular type of cancer and many others, there's a chance of it coming back, so they don't usually say that you're completely cured until after many years of tests," Hogan said, after members of his staff cheered and applauded his announcement in a crowded reception room by his office. "And I'll be undergoing PET scans on a regular basis and taking steps to try to do everything we can to make sure it doesn't come back."
Hogan was diagnosed with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma in June, five months into his first term as governor. At the time, he called it a "very aggressive" and "very advanced" form of cancer in his lymph nodes. The Republican, who won an upset victory last November in the heavily Democratic state, said he had noticed a painless lump along his jaw before he was diagnosed. He also felt some back pain, which he said was caused by a tumor pressing on his spinal column. Last month, he completed 30 days of chemotherapy.
On Monday, Hogan choked up as he recalled the outpouring of support he has received from people young and old.
"Such acts of kindness have kept me strong and my spirits high and they are undoubtedly among the reasons I'm on the road to recovery," Hogan said.
He received a blessing from Pope Francis in September on behalf of all cancer patients, and he has pledged to continue working to raise awareness about cancer.
"Today doesn't mark the end of a journey for me, merely the end of one chapter," Hogan said.
Dr. Aaron Rapoport, one of the governor's doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, said Hogan will take medication for about a year, and he will be treated as an outpatient.
"Where he is right now is very positive, and God willing it should continue," Rapoport said.
Dr. Catherine Broome, an associate professor at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, said patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma like Hogan do go into remission very quickly with aggressive therapy.
Broome said that while she does not know the details of Hogan's case, generally, physicians expect "60 to 65 percent of patients to actually be cured with their chemotherapy."
She added, "The critical time frame for looking for recurrences is that first year."
Lymphoma expert Dr. Nishitha Reddy, an associated professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said she had no details of the governor's case but that such a quick response to treatment "is not unusual" for lymphoma patients.
"It's great that he had such a good response, but we usually don't use the word 'cure' right off the bat," Reddy said.
Doctors generally don't say a patient is cured until they've been in remission for five years, Reddy said.