U.S. Sen. Angus King announced Monday that he has prostate cancer, but said that the diagnosis doesn’t change his plans to run for reelection in 2018.

King, 71, a former two-term Maine governor, said in a statement that his doctor found the cancer early, before it had spread to any other part of his body. Surgery to remove his prostate is scheduled for later this week.

“Let’s face it; cancer is a scary word to hear. So it might seem unusual to say this, but today, I actually feel pretty fortunate,” the senator said in a video statement posted on YouTube. “The fact is, millions of Americans bravely and quietly fight more aggressive cancers than mine every day. Many of them do so in the face of great financial hardship and without the support of their friends and family. I cannot imagine the strength it must take to carry on against that kind of adversity.”

King, an independent, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012, succeeding Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe. He served as Maine’s governor from 1995-2003 and is among the state’s most popular politicians, winning a three-way Senate race with 53 percent of the vote and re-election as governor in 1998 with 59 percent support.

King’s spokesman, Scott Ogden, said the senator had a busy schedule Monday and was not available for an interview.

However, his lengthy statement provided a great deal of information about his diagnosis, which was not King’s first brush with cancer.

“It’s a story we hear again and again – early detection saves lives. In this case, the story is mine. Not once, but twice,” King said. “Forty years ago, as a young man, a routine screening found an aggressive form of skin cancer. And, thanks to the doctors who caught it early, and my health insurance, I was cancer free within months.”

King said signs of the prostate cancer showed up in blood tests conducted during a routine annual checkup this spring and were later confirmed in a biopsy.

He has not experienced any symptoms and said a series of body scans revealed that the cancer had not spread beyond his prostate.

Prostate cancer can run in some families. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of also developing the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

Ogden was not aware of the senator’s family health history and wasn’t able to ask him about it.

The surgery to remove King’s prostate is scheduled for Friday at Massachusetts General Hospital, where his brother-in-law, John Herman, is a physician. The operation will be performed by Dr. Douglas Dahl.

King’s fellow Maine colleague in the Senate, Susan Collins, said she talked to him Monday morning about his diagnosis.

“Thankfully, because of early detection, his doctors can begin treatment very soon, and I am confident that Angus will make a quick and full recovery,” Collins said in a statement. “Our state is behind him, and both he and his family are in our thoughts and prayers. I look forward to his return to the Senate after his recovery from his surgery.”

Maine House Speaker Mark Eves issued a statement praising King for dealing with the diagnosis with “his signature optimism.”

King said the news does not change his plans to run for reelection to the Senate in 2018.

“We have a plan to treat it, and plan for a full recovery,” he said. “So when you see me on the Senate floor in a couple of weeks, or during the August work period in Maine, or on the campaign trail in a couple of years, you will see that I’m back to work with as much energy and dedication to serving you that I promised nearly three years ago.

“And, I will return with a renewed sense of commitment to standing up for the people of Maine.”

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell