By Dan Whitcomb
(Reuters) - Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, who collapsed while delivering his state-of-the-state address in St. Paul, said on Tuesday he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer but planned to stay on the job while undergoing treatment.
Dayton, 69, told reporters at a press conference that he did not think the fainting episode was related to his cancer and felt fit to serve out the remainder of his term that runs until early 2018.
"People deserve a governor who is on the job, qualified to perform the job intellectually and physically, and I believe I am," Dayton said, adding: "I expect to be judged for how well I perform.
The governor, who turns 70 on Thursday, said he learned of the cancer following a biopsy two weeks earlier and will consult with doctors on the best course of treatment in the coming days.
"The good news is, they say it's one of the best success stories and by all indications (the cancer has) not extended beyond the prostate," Dayton said..
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The silver-haired governor stunned observers, including members of the state legislature, when he collapsed on Monday while delivering the state-of the-state speech.
A video clip from official statehouse footage showed Dayton pausing to take a sip of water, then slurring his words as he tried to resume his address before slumping at the lectern.
He appeared to hit his forehead on the lectern as he lost his footing and aides rushed to grab him. Gasps rose from the assembly hall and someone was heard saying, "Get him to the ground, get him to the ground, please."
Lawmakers immediately adjourned the session while Dayton, a member of the Democratic-affiliated Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, was attended to.
During his press conference on Tuesday the governor joked about the episode, saying it had taught him that "the speech was too long."
He said he had only lost consciousness for five to 10 seconds and felt no ill effects from striking his head, which he did not remember. Dayton said the episode had prompted him to disclose the prostate cancer earlier than planned.
The governor was briefly hospitalized about a year ago after fainting while speaking at an event in the St. Paul suburb of Woodbury. Aides said then that he was treated for dehydration.
Dayton served six years as a U.S. senator from Minnesota before he was elected to his first term as governor in 2010.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Additional reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Alan Crosby and Jeffrey Benkoe)