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President Biden successfully treated for cancerous lesion

Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images

A lesion removed from President Biden's chest earlier this month was cancerous, White House physician Dr. Kevin O'Connor told White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a memorandum Friday.

"As expected, the biopsy confirmed that the small lesion was basal cell carcinoma," the memo says, in part.

"The area around the biopsy site was treated presumptively with electrodessication and curettage and the time of biopsy," the memo also says.

Basal cell carcinoma lesions "have the potential to increase in size, resulting in a more significant issue as well as increased challenges for surgical removal."

Dr. O'Connor added that the biopsy site had "healed nicely" and that the President will undergo continued dermatologic surveillance as part of his ongoing comprehensive healthcare.

When was the cancer discovered?

President Biden has a skin lesion removed on February 16 at Walter Reed National Military Center. The tissue from the dermatologic procedure was sent for traditional biopsy, according to the memo.

How are doctors treating President Biden?

When doctors discovered the lesion on President Biden's chest, they treated it presumptively via electrodessication and curettage.

Electrodessication and curettage is good for treatment of "superficial basal cell and squamous cell cancers as well as some pre-cancerous skin tumors," according to the American Cancer Society.

The treatment involves first numbing the area. Then the tumor is removed by scraping with an instrument called a curette. Next, the area is treated with an electric needle to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

Does President Biden have a history of cancer?

The President has had several non-melanoma skin cancers removed in the past, according to the New York Times.

In July 2022, President Biden made a confusing remark about having cancer during a speech in Somerset, Massachusetts about climate change. At the time, he said, according to the White House transcript:

And guess what? The first frost, you knew what was happening. You had to put on your windshield wipers to get, literally, the oil slick off the window. That’s why I and so damn many other people I grew up [with] have cancer and why can- — for the longest time, Delaware had the highest cancer rate in the nation.

The White House later clarified those remarks, saying the President was referring to previous skin cancers.

What is President Biden's prognosis?

Dr. O'Connor's memo indicates no further treatment is required and that his doctors will continue to monitor him.

What is important to know about basal cell carcinoma?

Basal cell carcinoma lesions do not tend to "spread" or metastasize, unlike melanoma or squamous cell carcinomas, Dr. O'Connor noted in his report.

BCC is the most common form of skin cancer in the most frequently occurring, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. An estimated 3.6 million cases are diagnosed yearly in the United States.

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