Billionaire businessman Warren Buffett told shareholders that he has stage 1 prostate cancer. In a letter Tuesday afternoon, Buffett, 81, said his doctors tell him his condition “is not remotely life-threatening or even debilitating in any meaningful way.”
The CEO and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway said he received his diagnosis last Wednesday. He and his doctors have decided on a two-month treatment of daily radiation that will begin in mid-July, restricting travel but not his daily routine, he wrote.
“I feel great — as if I were in my normal excellent health — and my energy level is 100 percent,” he wrote.
Prostate cancer is labeled stage 1 if it is found only in the prostate gland. According to the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society, the five-year relative survival rate is nearly 100 percent if the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate at the time of diagnosis.
“Stage I does not tell us much, other than localized,” said Dr. Jerome Richie, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Given Buffett’s age, Richie said standard options would include active surveillance or radiation therapy and that Buffett probably did not need a bone scan or CT scan.
If localized and not high Gleason grade (a score given to prostate cases based on microscopic examination), radiation therapy alone will give him an excellent chance of survival without additional therapy.
Dr. Glenn Bubley, physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said patients over age 70 often are directed to external beam therapy over eight to nine weeks as an alternative to surgery.
“Younger men also often choose this option, Bubley said. “It is completely standard care.”
Buffett, a leader whose name is entwined with his company’s identity, said in February he and Berkshire Hathaway’s board have identified a successor — though Buffett has said the successor does not know he or she has been selected, CNBC reported.
Called “The Oracle of Omaha” for his business acumen, Buffett has remained silent about his succession plan despite investors who have pressed for more information.
ABC News’ Dan Childs contributed to this report.