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McCain needs frequent checks for skin cancer

July 28, 2008 |  3:19 pm

Mccain_4If you look at pictures taken over the years, presumed Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona is frequently photographed with a bandage on his face. And that's unlikely to change. A long-term skin cancer survivor, McCain was spotted today with a bandage on his right cheek, which he said was from a biopsy performed by his dermatologist this morning. The Los Angeles Times reported that McCain said he was fine and that the biopsy was routine.

McCain was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 1993 and has had four cancerous lesions removed since then. Compared with people in the general population, patients diagnosed with melanoma have a much higher rate of developing additional melanomas in the future. For that reason, many melanoma survivors see a skin doctor for check-ups every few months.

McCain is at high risk for future melanomas because of his history. Melanomas on the face are not as lethal as those found on the neck or scalp, according to a recent study. Men, however, have a lower survival rate than women.

The American Cancer Society has more information on melanoma diagnosis and treatment.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: AP/Eric Draper. This photo was taken of McCain after a biopsy in 2000.