February 8, 2023

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, 71, underwent a common surgical procedure that successfully removes tumorous skin tissue in 99 percent of all cases.

The White House physician briefed the public on the First Lady’s condition on Wednesday, announcing that the executive branch’s medical team had removed a small lesion above her right eye that turned out to be basal cell carcinoma.

Doctors also found and removed a basal cell carcinoma on the left side of her chest. A third concern was noted on Dr. Biden’s left eyelid. Doctors removed the lesion there, but did not say publicly that it was also basal cell carcinoma.

Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the president’s physician, said that in all cases “all cancerous tissue has been successfully removed.

“As expected, the First Lady has facial swelling and bruising, but she is in good spirits and feeling well.”

Last week, Dr. O’Connor, said that doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center would remove the lesion above Dr. Biden’s eye “with extreme caution.”

The procedure, called Mohs surgery, is used to remove certain types of skin cancer, including some melanomas, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and other less common skin cancers.

News of her procedure comes just a few years after Dr. Biden underwent a “common medical procedure” at George Washington University Hospital, though the purpose of the procedure was not disclosed by the White House.

Dr.  Jill Biden, 71, went to Walter Reed Military Medical Center on Wednesday to have a cancerous skin lesion removed above her right eye.  She will undergo a Mohs procedure, which successfully cuts out skin cancer in 99 percent of cases

Dr. Jill Biden, 71, went to Walter Reed Military Medical Center on Wednesday to have a cancerous skin lesion removed above her right eye. She will undergo a Mohs procedure, which successfully cuts out skin cancer in 99 percent of cases

Biden and her husband, the president, arrived at the hospital around 8 a.m. Wednesday. The White House released the status update on Wednesday afternoon.

Mohs surgery is performed in an outpatient setting and usually takes a few hours. Dr. Biden was able to stay awake for the surgery, which only requires local anesthesia to numb the area.

The goal of a Mohs procedure is to excise as much cancerous skin tissue as possible while doing as little damage as possible to surrounding healthy tissue. It is a gradual process and layers of skin are removed step by step.

First, the surgeon uses a scalpel to remove the cancerous skin tissue on the surface, understanding that there may be more cancerous tissue below the surface. Skin cancer is like an iceberg. Most of it is usually hidden below the surface.

The surgeon maps where on the body the cancerous tissue was extracted, takes that tissue sample to the lab, stains it, and cuts it into sections. Specialized technicians place those tissue samples on slides to examine them under the microscope.

Dr.  Biden and her husband Joe arrived at Walter Reed around 8 a.m. on Wednesday.  The procedure is simple and relatively fast.  The White House will provide an update on Dr. Biden's condition later on Wednesday

Dr. Biden and her husband Joe arrived at Walter Reed around 8 a.m. on Wednesday. The procedure is simple and relatively fast. The White House will provide an update on Dr. Biden’s condition later on Wednesday

Letter from the Physician's Office to the President to the First Lady's Press Secretary and Special Assistant to the President Vanessa Valdivia Concerning Jill Biden's Health Jan 3.  2022During a routine skin cancer examination, a small lesion was found above the First Lady's right eye.  Memo here from Dr.  Kevin O'Connor, physician to the president, with more information about the First Lady's upcoming outpatient procedure to have it removed and examined.https://twitter.com/vvaldivia46/status/1610778481264295936/photo/1

Letter from the Physician’s Office to the President to the First Lady’s Press Secretary and Special Assistant to the President Vanessa Valdivia Concerning Jill Biden’s Health Jan 3. 2022During a routine skin cancer examination, a small lesion was found above the First Lady’s right eye. Memo here from Dr. Kevin O’Connor, physician to the president, with more information about the First Lady’s upcoming outpatient procedure to have it removed and examined.https://twitter.com/vvaldivia46/status/1610778481264295936/photo/1

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The doctor carefully examines the edges of each part of the tissue for signs of residual cancer. If the surgeon finds cancer cells under the microscope, their location will be indicated on the map.

The process is repeated until the doctor can find no evidence of cancer in the sampled tissue.

Some wounds are so large that stitches are needed to close. They usually heal within a few weeks. Smaller wounds may heal on their own in about a month.

Typically, people can leave between two and six hours after outpatient surgery, although the timing depends on the size of the affected area.

The procedure is very common. Mohs operation is performed more than 876,000 tumors per year in the United States.

Certain types of skin cancer treated with this procedure – basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas – are on the rise. Approximately 1.8 million cases of squamous cell carcinomas are reported annually. In the past 30 years, the incidence of squamous cell carcinomas has increased by 200 percent, according to to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Basal cell carcinoma, meanwhile, is the most common form of skin cancer and the most common of all cancers. An estimated 3.6 million cases are diagnosed each year in the US alone.

Rising skin cancer rates are likely due to better detection and diagnosis capabilities, as well as increased exposure to ultraviolet light, more time spent in outdoor activities, changes in clothing style, longer life spans, ozone depletion, genetics, and in some cases immune suppression.

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