Jill Biden Has Surgery to Remove Two Cancerous Lesions
WASHINGTON — Jill Biden, the first lady, had outpatient surgery on Wednesday to remove three skin lesions, two of which doctors determined to be cancerous.
The White House physician, Dr. Kevin C. O’Connor, said in a statement that the tissue from two sites — above her right eye and on her chest — was tested and confirmed to be basal cell carcinoma, a common and relatively unaggressive form of skin cancer. All the cancerous tissue was removed, Dr. O’Connor said, and doctors did not expect any further procedures to be necessary.
A third, similar lesion was also removed from the first lady’s left eyelid, but tests were still being conducted to check for cancer, according to the statement.
The procedure caused some facial swelling and bruising “as anticipated,” Dr. O’Connor said, but the first lady “is in good spirits and is feeling well.” He said she would return to the White House as planned on Wednesday after spending most of the day at the hospital.
President Biden accompanied Dr. Biden, 71, to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where she received the treatment, known as Mohs surgery, which consists of repeated removal of thin layers of skin and examination of each under a microscope to check for the presence of cancerous cells.
While the technique is considered routine and effective, and is usually conducted on an outpatient basis, the president held no public events on Wednesday, and the White House emphasized that Mr. Biden was prioritizing his wife’s medical care.
“Today is about his wife — that is the focus for the president right now,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, told reporters.
Concern about the possibility of cancer arose last week during a routine skin cancer examination in which doctors noticed the lesion above the first lady’s right eye, and doctors recommended she undergo surgery “in an abundance of caution.”
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer in the United States, with around two million Americans receiving that diagnosis every year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. It is also considered one of the most treatable cancers, as lesions rarely metastasize and doctors can typically remove them with shallow incisions.
Since Mr. Biden assumed the presidency, Dr. Biden has also undergone surgery to remove debris from a puncture wound in her left foot after she stepped on an object while walking on the beach in Hawaii in 2021.
Cancer has long been one of Dr. Biden’s areas of focus, and she has frequently addressed it as first lady. She founded the Biden Breast Health Initiative in 1993 after four of her friends were diagnosed with breast cancer, and she has traveled the country urging cancer screenings and support for cancer patients and their families.