Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas diagnosed with prostate cancer

Published on: 3/11/2014

Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas announced Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will soon begin treatment.

In a news release, Vrakas said that several weeks ago his doctors told him that his prostate-specific antigen levels were abnormally high.

Additional testing and a biopsy showed that Vrakas, who has been county executive since 2005, has cancer.

"It is not believed the cancer has spread beyond my prostate," Vrakas said. "I feel lucky the cancer was detected when it was, and that I will soon begin treatment and get on the path to recovery."

Vrakas, who was born and raised in the City of Waukesha and is a graduate of Waukesha South High School, will receive care from local doctors, in addition to treatments at the Scripps Proton Therapy Center in San Diego.

"While my treatment may have a short-term effect on my ability to attend as many community events as I would like, it will not hamper my ability to perform the other duties of my office or lessen my desire to continue serving the people of Waukesha County," Vrakas said.

Vrakas praised the California facility, saying the recently opened center is one of 15 proton therapy centers in the United States and is the only one dedicated to treating cancer patients with pencil beam technology. Pencil beam scanning pinpoints treatment to areas of the body with cancer and spares other healthy tissue, Vrakas noted.

With the American Cancer Society estimating that about 233,000 cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed this year in the U.S., Vrakas urges all men to get checked.

"I strongly encourage men to have annual physicals and to consult their doctor to determine the age appropriateness of additional medical screening," Vrakas said.

As the county executive, Vrakas, a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate who was elected to four-year terms in 2007 and 2011, oversees more than 1,400 full-time employees, 400 part-time and seasonal employees and manages a $273.8 million annual budget.

Before being elected county executive Vrakas served in the state Legislature, where he represented the 33rd Assembly District for 15 years. While holding that position, the Republican leader was the Assembly's majority caucus chairman.

He is also a former downtown Waukesha restaurant business owner.

Dan's father, Paul, is a former mayor of the City of Waukesha.