It appears that John McCain’s medical condition relating to the surgery he underwent on Friday may be more serious than initially implied, possibly delaying his return to Washington by a couple of weeks at the least.
McCain’s office issued a statement saying that “a two-inch blood clot was removed from ‘above his left eye’ during a ‘minimally invasive craniotomy with an eyebrow incision’… A craniotomy is an opening of the skull, and an eyebrow incision would be used to reach a clot in or near the left frontal lobes of the brain.” (via New York Times)
“Usually, a blood clot in this area would be a very concerning issue,” said Dr. Nrupen Baxi, assistant professor of neurosurgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, a sentiment that was echoed by CNN Chief Medical Correspondent and neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta as well.
“It’s a significant operation,” said Baxi about the treatment, which involved the senator going into general anesthesia, and “there was obviously an abnormality that was concerning enough for him to go through with this.”
Concerns regarding the senator’s condition began in June, when his disoriented questioning of James Comey, the former FBI director, had people worried about his mental or physical health, something he chalked up to staying up too late the previous night. (via New York Times)
However, there are suspicions that the clot could be suggestive of a deeper problem rather than natural aging or an injury to the head. Gupta remarked that “it’s a pretty significant size of compression on that part of the brain,” the same part of the brain where McCain has a history of invasive melanoma. The clot was located over his left eye, not far from where he was diagnosed with melanoma in his left temple in 2000. The chief concern at the moment would be that his blood clot is signaling a recurrence of cancer.
Melanoma is considered the most dangerous form of skin cancer, resulting in skin cells multiplying rapidly and forming malignant tumors. Although melanoma kills around 10,130 people in the U.S. annually, if recognized early enough, it is almost always curable with modern technology. (via Skin Cancer Foundation)
“They’re calling it a blood clot. When it’s removed, you want to look at it specifically under the microscope and see if there’s anything that indicated this could be melanoma. You try to remove this early and aggressively,” the neurosurgeon said.
McCain has had an unfortunate history of skin cancer. He had three other malignant melanomas back in 1993, 2000, and 2002. But thankfully for him, they have been limited to the top layer of the skin and completely non-invasive. As such, the senator has been regularly screened by his doctors since and was likely the only reason this clot was found in the first place.
As lab results are pending on the tissue and if there are any signs of the cancer returning, the Senate under Mitch McConnell said they would delay voting on the Republican health care bill until McCain recovers and can return to Washington. We need to keep McCain and his doctors in our prayers.