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Washington • Former Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah confirmed Wednesday that he has pancreatic cancer and will start treatment Friday.

Bennett said in a statement that he will begin a treatment regimen at Johns Hopkins University, but at the moment there is no "firm prognosis" of what stage the cancer is in.

"The doctors are hopeful that a combination of chemotherapy and radiation can shrink the tumor to a point where it will become operable," Bennett said in a statement.

Bennett, 81, lives part time in Washington and in Salt Lake City and runs a consulting business, as well as working as a lobbyist for Arent Fox. He served three terms in the Senate before losing re-election in 2010 to Republican Sen. Mike Lee.

Bennett said that he has received a number of inquiries about his health from friends and former associates, and that has been "very heartwarming."

He said he would continue to update his friends as he reached "important milestones."

"All of us in the family express our deep gratitude for all of the expressions of comfort that we have received," Bennett said.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who served with Bennett during the latter's 18 years in the Senate, issued a statement praising his former GOP colleague.

"Elaine and I have been praying for Bob, his wife, Joyce, and their family as they take up this challenge with love and dedication," Hatch said. "Bob is a very good friend and I was deeply saddened to learn the news about his health. I have always admired that he is a fighter and I will do everything I can to support him in this fight."