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Biden had skin cancer removed but will not require further treatment, doctor says

By Sarah May
|
March 4, 2023

Following a repeatedly postponed physical examination that took place last month, it was revealed on Friday that President Joe Biden had a cancerous lesion removed from his chest, as The Hill reports.

Dr. Kevin O'Connor explained in a memo that a biopsy conducted on the lesion confirmed that it was basal cell carcinoma, and he also noted that all cancerous tissue was excised from the site, and no further treatment is required.

Cancerous lesion removed

Biden's long-awaited exam took place on Feb. 16 and, as CBS News noted at the time, O'Connor declared the octogenarian president to be “fit for duty” and capable of executing “all of his responsibilities without any exemptions or accommodations.”

O'Connor did report at the time that the aforementioned lesion was removed and sent for a traditional biopsy, the results of which were made public on Friday.

In explaining the findings, O'Connor stated, according to Fox News, “As expected, the biopsy confirmed that the small lesion was basal cell carcinoma. All cancerous tissue was successfully removed. The area around the biopsy site was treated presumptively with electrodessication and curettage at the time of the biopsy. No further treatment is required.”

“The site of the biopsy has healed nicely and the president will continue dermatologic surveillance as part of his ongoing comprehensive healthcare,” the doctor added.

Common, treatable cancer

As The Hill noted, basal cell carcinoma ranks as the most frequently diagnosed form of skin cancer, and due to the typically slow growth of such tumors, treatment tends to be successful when the condition is identified early.

According to the Mayo Clinic, key risk factors for the condition include chronic sun exposure, prior radiation therapy, advancing age, a family history of skin cancer, and genetic conditions.

Potential complications of basal cell carcinoma can include a risk of recurrence, heightened danger that other forms of skin cancer may emerge and spread beyond the skin itself.

Treatment of the type of skin cancer discovered on the president's chest typically involves surgical excision of the lesion itself as well as some of the healthy tissue that surrounds it, the same course of action pursued in Biden's case.

First lady also diagnosed

The president was not the only member of his family to have a brush with cancer in recent weeks, as first lady Jill Biden had two cancerous lesions removed in January, as the Associated Press reported at the time.

As the outlet noted, a lesion above Mrs. Biden's right eye was excised as was another one on her chest. A third growth on her left eyelid was reportedly also being examined by her physician.

O'Connor reported on the first lady's condition, saying that the removed lesions were confirmed as basal cell carcinoma, and the one found on her left eyelid was sent for microscopic review.

Following the procedure to remove the lesions, the first lady was said to have been in “good spirits,” though she did reportedly experience some degree of “facial swelling and bruising.”

Implications for 2024

As The Hill noted, the president’s health status is almost certain to be the subject of much discussion as the 2024 election cycle heats up, particularly considering that he would be 82 years of age on Inauguration Day of a second term.

In addition, Biden's frequent gaffes and mental misfires in public have led many to question whether more thorough cognitive testing is required, though it does not appear that his recent physical included such a review.

Though greater transparency about the president's true condition has been demanded by lawmakers including Republican Reps. Ronny Jackson (TX-13) and Scott DesJarlais (TN-04), themselves both former physicians, Dr. David Scheiner – Barack Obama's former longtime doctor – recently asserted that the public should not expect much to be revealed, particularly in an election year, as the Washington Examiner noted.

“You're not going to learn anything. They sugarcoat these things,” Scheiner said.