RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ Sen. Jesse Helms is doing ``the fashionable thing to do'' for a 76-year-old man: getting his knees replaced.

``The sooner, the better,'' the Republican said Wednesday. He said he will probably undergo surgery in the fall, after the Senate adjourns.

Helms, who was elected to his fifth term in 1996, said that the cartilage in his knees has worn away and that arthroscopic surgery last December did not correct the problem. He now has bone grinding on bone.

``It is painful,'' he said. ``I am walking with a cane.''

He also occasionally uses an electric cart to get around on Capitol Hill.