New Questions Arise Over McCain's Health


The New York Times reporter Lawrence Altman, a medical doctor himself, finds that "serious gaps remain in the public's knowledge about the health of the presidential and vice-presidential nominees," which is "a striking departure from recent campaigns, in which many candidates and their doctors were more forthcoming."

Of McCain, the Times reports:
If elected, Senator John McCain of Arizona, 72, the Republican nominee, would be the oldest man to be sworn in to a first term as president and the first cancer survivor to win the office. The scars on his puffy left cheek are cosmetic reminders of the extensive surgery he underwent in 2000 to remove a malignant melanoma.

Last May, his campaign and his doctors released nearly 1,200 pages of medical information, far more than the three other nominees. But the documents were released in a restricted way that leaves questions, even confusion, about his cancer.

A critical question concerns inconsistencies in medical opinions about the severity of his melanoma; if the classification of his melanoma is more severe, it would increase the statistical likelihood of death from a recurrence of the cancer. [...]

By not allowing reporters to interview him or his doctors extensively about his entire medical history, he has made it impossible to get a complete picture of his diagnoses and treatment.

Both Barack Obama and Joe Biden released recent medical records to the Times showing that they were healthy, though Altman notes that Biden's documents "did not indicate whether he had had a test in recent years to detect any new aneurysm," and Obama's most recent check-up was in January 2007.

Meanwhile, "Nothing is known publicly about Ms. Palin's medical history," Altman reports, "aside from the much-discussed circumstances surrounding the birth of her fifth child last April. Ms. Palin has said that her water broke while she was at a conference in Dallas and that she flew to Anchorage, where she gave birth to her son Trig hours after landing.

"Last week Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for Ms. Palin, said the governor declined to be interviewed or provide any health records."


The issues of John McCain's age and health have repeatedly been pushed, with much resistance, into the heart of the political discussion. Prompted in part by the selection of Palin as the Republican vice presidential nominee, the topic crested with the release of a political advertisement by Brave New Films PAC calling attention to McCain's history of skin cancer and the need for more information about his medical records.

(Watch Brave New Films' original video regarding McCain's heath record secrecy and sign the open letter calling for full disclosure of his medical records.)
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