Bob Dole says he's been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer

The former US senator began treatment on Monday

Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole announced Thursday he began treatment this week for stage 4 lung cancer

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"While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own," he said in a statement. 

Dole, 97, is a World War II veteran, former Senate Majority Leader and was the Republican Party's 1996 presidential nominee. His political career spanned nearly five decades.

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Stage 4 cancer is the most advanced stage of the illness and is the least likely to be cured or end up in remission. 

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The former senator's announcement comes a day after conservative talk show pioneer Rush Limbaugh died following a year-long battle with stage 4 lung cancer.