Does Biden have cancer? Lesion removed from chest was basal cell carcinoma, doctor says

ByAllie Malloy and Kevin Liptak, CNN, CNNWire
Friday, March 3, 2023
Lesion removed from President Biden's chest was cancerous, doctor says
President Joe Biden had a basal cell carcinoma removed from his chest, his doctor said. The basal cell carcinoma is common.

WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden's doctor said Friday that a lesion removed from the president's chest last month was basal cell carcinoma, a common type of skin cancer.

Dr. Kevin O'Connor wrote in a letter to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre that the lesion was removed and biopsied. "As expected," the lesion tested positive for basal cell carcinoma, O'Connor wrote.

"All cancerous tissue was successfully removed," O'Connor wrote.

Biden will continue "dermatological surveillance" going forward, he added. Biden's physician said "no further treatment" was required.

O'Connor said the area where the cancerous lesion was removed had "healed nicely."

The letter also said: "Basal cell carcinoma lesions do not tend to 'spread' or metastasize, as some more serious skin cancers such as melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma are known to do."

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The lesion was initially removed during Biden's annual physical in February. The White House announced the lesion was removed at the time for testing.

First lady Dr. Jill Biden had a procedure earlier this year to remove similar lesions.

According to a January letter issued by O'Connor, Jill Biden had a Mohs surgery to remove and examine a lesion above her right eye, which had been discovered during a routine skin cancer checkup.

"The procedure confirmed the small lesion was basal cell carcinoma," O'Connor wrote in the letter. "All cancerous tissue was successfully removed, and the margins were clear of any residual skin cancer cells."

However, during a pre-operative consultation, O'Connor noted "an additional area of concern was identified on the left side of the first lady's chest." This area was also treated with Mohs surgery.

In February, O'Connor reported that President Biden remains "healthy" and "vigorous" after his physical and is "fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency."

Exams of the president's head, ears, eyes, nose and throat were normal. An "extremely detailed" neurologic exam found no findings that would be consistent with stroke, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease.

Biden still experiences a "stiff gait," the report said, and he was prescribed custom orthotics to help with his feet. He continues to work out five days a week and his contact lens prescription was updated.

The report from O'Connor was likely the last health update before Biden makes his reelection intentions known in the coming months.

Basal cell carcinoma of the skin is one of the most common cancers in the US and treatment can be highly effective when the cancer is detected early.

These cancers often present as discoloration and scaling and can cause ulceration or sores and in some cases, can get very large and unsightly. They can also metastasize or spread to internal organs and cause organ dysfunction leading to death.

Like the other skin cancer, melanoma, these diseases are very much related to sun exposure and sunburn. Fair-skinned people and people who have freckles and/or red hair are especially at risk. Someone with basal cell is also at increased risk for squamous cell or melanoma.

Many people have small lesions burned or cut off several times a year. While inconvenient, it helps decrease risk of systemic spread of the disease.

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