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Clinton’s Lesion Was Skin Cancer

January 16, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The flat lesion removed from President Clinton’s back last week has tested positive for skin cancer, the White House said Tuesday.

White House press secretary Jake Siewert said pathology results confirmed the diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma. The lesion was discovered at a Jan. 12 physical at Bethesda Naval Hospital in suburban Maryland.

``This is a relatively common form of skin cancer, 800,000 to 1 million cases a year,″ Siewert said. ``The lesion was removed, so while the president, it can be said, had skin cancer, that has been removed and he no longer has it.″

When doctors removed the lesion, the tissue around it also was treated with a ``scraping and burning″ technique, a common procedure, Siewert said.

He said pathologists noted that the entire lesion was removed and that the possibility of recurrence is low.

Clinton will have a follow-up visit with the dermatologist in six months, Siewert said.

``If there’s no evidence of new lesions at that time, it will be followed up on an annual basis,″ he said.

After the exam, Dr. David Corbett, retired chairman of the hospital’s dermatology department, said Clinton has had ``sun-damage spots″ before, but this is the first time such spots raised suspicions of skin cancer.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most curable form of skin cancer. It is a slow-growing cancer usually confined to the surface of skin _ and thus doctors almost always can remove it all with a shallow incision.

The sun-caused tumors usually begin as a small, waxlike nodule on the skin, sometimes looking like pearly white scars. They also can form scabs that alternately bleed and heal.

Besides the skin cancer and a slightly elevated cholesterol level, doctors pronounced Clinton in good health as he prepares to leave the White House.

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