Zions CEO Simmons says his cancer is ‘manageable’

Less than three months after disclosing a cancer diagnosis, Zions Bancorp. Chairman and CEO Harris Simmons appears to be responding well to treatment.

The longtime leader of the Salt Lake City company told investors Wednesday that a CAT scan on Feb. 1 did not detect Mantle Cell Lymphoma, the rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with which he was diagnosed last fall. He said doctors at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston told him is showing “complete response or remission because they couldn’t find anything” on the scan.

Zions CEO Harris Simmons, 66, was diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma, the rare form of cancer, in November.

“Knock on wood, it looks like I’m on a pretty good path here,” said Simmons, who gave the update during a question-and-answer session at Keefe Bruyette & Woods’ Virtual Winter Financial Services Symposium. “I’m feeling great and it looks like it’s going to be very manageable.”

The 66-year-old CEO, who disclosed his medical condition in a regulatory filing on Nov. 30, will now begin a course of treatment that involves monthly infusion treatment and a daily immunotherapy tablet, but not chemotherapy, he said. In a letter to employees in November, he said he began non-chemo treatment on Thanksgiving Day and would plan to pursue a relatively new form of gene therapy approved in July by the Food and Drug Administration.

Simmons, who has been with Zions since 1970, has been chief executive of the $81.5 billion-asset company for more than three decades. He was named American Banker’s Banker of the Year in 2018.

In his November letter, he cautioned that his schedule would be disrupted for a few months, but expressed optimism about the future and confidence in Zions’ long-standing management team.

“I take great comfort in the fact that we have a strong management team who can capably carry on during any of my brief absences,” he said at the time.

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