Tag Archives: Cedars-Sinai

Former Chief of Dermatology at Cedars-Sinai Calls on McCain to Release His Medical Records

Cross-posted from Open Left. The author, Ron Bronow, M.D., is the former Chief of Dermatology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A., and one of over 2,700 doctors across the country who signed an open letter from Brave New PAC (disclosure: my employer) calling on John McCain to issue a full, public release of his medical records.  Dr. Michael Fratkin of Eureka and Dr. Noah Craft at UCLA are featured in this video explaining the importance of the issue.

Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly are screaming foul about an effort on the part of 2,768 doctors (myself among them) to get John McCain to release his medical records. After a 30-second TV ad spot on the issue went up on MSNBC for two days last week, O’Reilly even managed to bully the network into pulling the commercial off the air. Apparently, asking very real questions about McCain’s health is deemed by the right wing punditocracy to be just another disgraceful partisan attack, even when the questions come from thousands of medical doctors all over the country.

I know it’s a lot to ask of Limbaugh and the like, but let’s consider the facts:

Nobody disagrees with the fact that the melanoma removed from Senator McCain’s temple in 2000 was aggressive, requiring radical surgery. But there are two conflicting reports out there in need of resolution.  In May, when the McCain campaign allowed 20 reporters three hours each to review almost 1,200 pages of McCain’s medical records (no cell phones, internet access or photocopying allowed), one particularly disturbing piece of news emerged from the speed reading contest. While the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale had called the lesion on McCain’s temple a Stage IIA melanoma when it was resected eight years ago, it turns out that two pathologists at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology had reviewed the same slides at the time and reached a different conclusion.  They reported that the lesion was “highly suggestive of a metastasis of malignant melanoma and may represent a satellite metastasis.” That would be a Stage III melanoma.

So what’s the difference? The survival rates for Stage II melanoma are 79% for five years and 65% for ten years. For stage III melanomas the 5 and 10 year survival rates are 55% and 38%.

In general, if a melanoma recurs after the initial treatment, the five year survival rate is 7-19%, depending on the site of metastasis. It’s agreed that Senator McCain’s surgery in 2000 consisted of a 2.5 x 2.5 inch excision of the forehead tumor and the removal of 33 lymph nodes, followed by reconstructive surgery. Many experts feel that this indicates that the Senator’s tumor was Stage III.  The report from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology only bolsters that suspicion.

The right wing pundits can – and will – kick and scream and cry foul about this call from the medical community for full disclosure.  That won’t change the fact that we have a right to know the stage of the disease of a man running for the most important job in the world.