Warren Buffett said in a letter to shareholders on Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with stage 1 prostate cancer. The 81-year-old billionaire investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) said the situation wasn't life threatening, but he would let shareholders know if it deteriorated.
Buffett said "the good news" is that doctors have indicated his condition isn't "remotely life threatening or even debilitating in any meaningful way." He went on to say he would let shareholders know immediately should his health situation change. "Eventually, of course, it will; but I believe that day is a long way off," he said.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with prostate cancer that's localized is 100%.
Buffett was diagnosed on Thursday and followed up with a doctor's consultation on Monday, from which he went directly back into a business meeting, according to CNNMoney.
Buffett on Transparency
Buffett's openness on this matter with shareholders comes after his criticism of the more private handling of the late Steve Jobs' illness.
“It’s a material fact,” said Buffett on CNBC in 2009 of Apple's disclosure on Jobs' health leading up to a liver transplant. “Whether he is facing serious surgery or not is a material fact. Whether I’m facing serious surgery is a material fact. Whether Jeff Immelt is, I mean, so I think that’s important to get out. They’re going to find out about it anyway so I don’t see a big privacy issue or anything of the sort,” he said.
“If I have any serious illness, or something coming up of an important nature, an operation or anything like that, I think the thing to do is just tell… the Berkshire shareholders about it,” Buffett said then.
The investment community showed confidence in the immediate reaction on Twitter. Here's what a few tweeters had to say:
@tradefast: prostate cancer will not cause the demise of Warren Buffett - 82 yr old with prostate cancer will die in 1-15 yrs, same as any 82 year old
optionmonster: ... stage 1 at his age is not end of the world, testosterone in men his age quite low RT
vcutrader: Buffett will pass one day and people will freak out over the stock but he has built an amazing set of businesses and it is a buy $BRK.B
Letter to Shareholders
Below is the full text of the letter, which is accessible through the Berkshire Hathaway's website:
To the Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway:
This is to let you know that I have been diagnosed with stage I prostate cancer. The good news is that I’ve been told by my doctors that my condition is not remotely life-threatening or even debilitating in any meaningful way. I received my diagnosis last Wednesday. I then had a CAT scan and a bone scan on Thursday, followed by an MRI today. These tests showed no incidence of cancer elsewhere in my body.
My doctors and I have decided on a two-month treatment of daily radiation to begin in mid-July. This regimen will restrict my travel during that period, but will not otherwise change my daily routine.
I feel great — as if I were in my normal excellent health — and my energy level is 100 percent. I discovered the cancer because my PSA level (an indicator my doctors had regularly checked for many years) recently jumped beyond its normal elevation and a biopsy seemed warranted.
I will let shareholders know immediately should my health situation change. Eventually, of course, it will; but I believe that day is a long way off.
Warren E. Buffett