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Prostate Tests for Nelson Mandela

November 24, 2000

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Former South African President Nelson Mandela will undergo tests on his prostate after a routine examination turned up high protein levels in his blood, his doctors said Friday.

It was unclear what the presence of the prostatic antigen protein meant, but it is commonly found in older men, said Dr. Michael Plit, Mandela’s personal physician. Mandela is 82.

``It does suggest that there is something going on in the prostate,″ Plit said.

Mandela had most of his prostate removed in surgery in 1990 after tumors were discovered in the gland. The tumors proved to be benign.

A group of urologists is to examine Mandela within the next week and determine whether a biopsy is needed, Plit said.

``We have a continuing surveillance going on,″ he said.

Mandela’s doctors said he was not in ill health and was not suffering any symptoms.

``There is not a question of a threat to Madiba’s life at all. No threat at all,″ Plit said, referring to Mandela by his nickname.

Mandela, a Nobel Peace laureate, has maintained an active schedule since retiring as president last year.

He is mediating the conflict in Burundi and has just returned from an overseas trip _ one of many _ to the United States and Britain.

He plans to travel to Tanzania on Sunday to continue his Burundi peace efforts.

``One of the most encouraging things the doctors told me is that I’m not going to die tonight, so I can carry on with my program,″ Mandela joked. ``I feel good.″

``I determine when I die,″ he said.

Mandela called off a trip to Jordan two weeks ago because he was suffering from the flu.

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