Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., completed radiation treatment for prostate cancer, according to the Omaha World-Herald, a newspaper owned by his company.
“Today I had my 44th and last day of radiation,” Buffett told newspaper executives, according to a report on the World-Herald’s website yesterday. “I’ll be feeling the side effects for a few weeks yet, but I am so glad to say that’s over.”
Buffett said in April that he was diagnosed with stage 1 prostate cancer and that he would begin a two-month treatment of daily radiation in July that would limit his travel. He said at the Berkshire annual meeting in May that the diagnosis is a “minor event” and that he feels “terrific.”
“What I have is not that serious, it has the word ‘cancer’ in it and that tends to alarm people,” Buffett told Bloomberg Television’s Betty Liu in an interview May 5 after the meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, where Berkshire is based. “If you’re 81, and you have stage 1 prostate cancer, it’s not going to be the thing that kills you in all probability. And you engage in radiation, which even reduces it further.” Buffett is now 82.
The treatments began at the Nebraska Medical Center in mid-July, the newspaper reported. Paul Baltes, a spokesman for the hospital, declined to comment, citing privacy rules. Berkshire didn’t return a message seeking comment.
The diagnosis in April was the least severe of four stages of the cancer, which affects 1 in 8 men over 70. The five-year survival rate for local prostate cancer, such as Buffett’s, is close to 100 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.
“If you’re a male and you get old enough, you get prostate cancer,” Buffett said in the May interview.
Buffett said in 2000, after having colon surgery, that his roles would be divided upon his retirement. The company said in February that it identified the manager who would step in as CEO if necessary and that there are two backup candidates.
The billionaire has said his son Howard Buffett, a farmer and Berkshire director, would help maintain the company’s identity as non-executive chairman. Berkshire has hired former hedge-fund managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler in the past two years to help oversee investments and eventually run a portfolio that included more than $75 billion of stock holdings as of the end of 2011.