Sen. John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer


The breaking news last night is that Senator John McCain’s surgery last week to remove a blood cot in his brain came back with a biopsy result that he has brain cancer. Sen. John McCain has brain tumor, doctors say:

U. S. Senator John McCain

Sen. John McCain revealed Wednesday that he has a primary brain tumor. The cancer was discovered during cranial surgery last week to remove a blood clot above his left eye.

In a statement from Mayo Clinic, McCain’s doctors described the tumor as a glioblastoma.

The American Brain Tumor Association describes glioblastoma tumors as typically malignant and difficult to treat because they contain many types of cells.

“It’s a very aggressive tumor,” said Dr. Joseph Zabramski, a neurosurgeon at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix not involved in McCain’s treatment. “In general, it is a tumor that has relentless force. You can slow it down but not stop it.”

The median survival rate for the most common type of glioblastoma is 14.6 months, according to the association. About 30 percent of patients live two years with glioblastomas.

The 80-year-old McCain, R-Ariz., is reviewing treatment options with his family. Those could include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, according to the Mayo statement.

“The Senator and his family are reviewing further treatment options with his Mayo Clinic care team. Treatment options may include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. The Senator’s doctors say he is recovering from his surgery ‘amazingly well’ and his underlying health is excellent.”

A written statement from McCain’s office reiterated that the six-term senator, 2008 Republican presidential nominee and former prisoner of war in Vietnam is in “good spirits” as he rests at his home in Arizona.

“He is grateful to the doctors and staff at Mayo Clinic for their outstanding care, and is confident that any future treatment will be effective,” McCain’s office said in the statement. “Further consultations with Senator McCain’s Mayo Clinic care team will indicate when he will return to the United States Senate.”

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Michael Berens, deputy director of the Translational Genomics Research Institute in downtown Phoenix, said McCain is fighting a very serious, aggressive cancer.

Berens, who has studied glioblastoma for 30 years, said patients who contract the cancer and undergo surgery, radiation and chemotherapy live on average 16 to 18 months.

“When I heard of the diagnosis, my heart sank,” Berens said. “Sen. McCain has been a stalwart for this institution. … He’s a long-term survivor of cancer and then this diagnosis pops up. God bless him. He’s a man of great courage and endurance. He has a rough journey ahead of him.”

As the grim news broke, McCain’s colleagues and even past rivals unleashed a bipartisan outpouring of well wishes, with many acknowledging his reputation for toughness.

True enough, but I guarantee you that there were Tea-Publican politicians in Arizona last night who were thinking to themselves and perhaps even discussing among themselves who will succeed Sen. McCain should he leave office.

In the event that McCain steps down or dies in office, Gov. Doug Ducey would appoint his replacement who, according to Arizona law, would serve “until the person elected at the next general election is qualified and assumes office.”

Whoever is elected would then fill out the rest of McCain’s term, according to state law. McCain’s term ends in 2022.

The statute stipulates that Ducey, a Republican, would have to appoint someone of the same political party as McCain, also a Republican.

The governor could appoint himself, but likely would appoint a sitting member of Congress. Rep. Martha McSally has frequently been mentioned as McCain’s successor, but the governor could surprise.

This would trigger a requirement to hold a special primary election, and then a general election to fill the vacancy in the House of Representatives as well.

I am frequently critical of John McCain and have worked to defeat him in every election he has run. But I do not wish him ill.  He and his family face a tough road ahead, and I wish them well.


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