In recent days, the White House announced that a cancerous lesion from the chest was removed from the body of the President of the United States Joe Biden during a surgical operation. According to the report of the personal doctor of the 80-year-old president, it is skin cancer of the basal cell carcinoma type – the most common cancer in the world. The cancerous tissue, it was reported, was successfully removed, and the president will remain under dermatological surveillance. The president’s wife, Jill Biden, also underwent a similar surgical procedure earlier this year designed to remove the cancerous lesions from her body.
Since the publication of the news in the media, many around the world are looking for information about the cancerous disease that was diagnosed in the most powerful man in the world. dr Shirley Greenberg, Senior oncologist and researcher at the Ella Malbaum Institute for Immuno-Oncology, Melanoma and Skin Cancer at the Medical Center Shebaexplains the prevalence of the disease, how dangerous it is and whether it might prevent the president from running for another term next year.
What cancer does Biden have?
“There are several types of skin cancer, which can be divided into melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. The main non-melanoma types are basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). The president of the United States was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. In Israel, this cancer is called BCC (Basal Cell Carcinoma).
How common is it?
“In fact, it is a tumor that the public believes is necessarily ‘melanoma’, but melanoma is actually the least common subtype of the disease. In contrast, the cancer that was discovered in Biden – basal cell carcinoma (BCC) – is characterized in 80 percent of cases of Skin cancer Although melanoma skin cancer is a more violent tumor, it is important for the public to know about the existence of non-melanoma skin cancer – which is more common.
What are the risk factors?
“There are several risk factors, including fair skin tone, a history of previous skin tumors, past exposure to radiation and age. The risk increases significantly with age, especially from the age of 50. President Biden, for example, has crossed the age of 80. Also immunosuppression, as a result of illness, medications or older age, is a significant risk factor for skin cancer morbidity. Sometimes there is also a genetic factor, so if the disease is common in your family – you must be careful with routine examinations by a dermatologist. The most significant factor is uncontrolled exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificially , for example from tanning beds. It is important to remember that intense exposure to the sun at a young age can cause skin cancer at a later age. Some people may think that getting burned in the sea in the summer is a harmless experience, but the consequences appear at older ages.”
How come both the president and his wife suffer from the same cancer?
“Although the disease is more common among men, about 30 percent more, women can also get skin cancer in general and non-melanoma skin cancer in particular. The first lady has passed the age of 70, so she, like many adults, is in the risk group for the disease.
what can we do?
“Of course, if there is a lesion on the skin, it is recommended to go to the doctor for clarification. However, the skin lesion is not always noticeable. Usually only a small lump of tissue of a different color or a wound that does not heal can be detected at first. Most of the time, these lesions grow very slowly and often go unnoticed in the disease. That is why it is important to go once a year for routine examinations at a dermatologist, especially in old age or if there are other risk factors.”
Is it dangerous and how is it treated?
“In the vast majority of cases, cancer can be treated – as in Biden’s case – through a simple surgical operation during which the lesion is removed under local anesthesia. In most cases, the cure rates are excellent. Only a minority of patients will develop a disease that cannot be operated on. In such cases, radiation can be used, and in advanced stages of the disease, targeted treatments are used – biological drugs that target the cancer cells in order to destroy them, and immunotherapy treatments – drugs that stimulate the patient’s immune system to identify and destroy cancer cells effectively.”
What should we do?
“Exactly what US President Joe Biden did. It is important to be aware, to perform an independent examination of the skin and to go regularly for routine examinations at a dermatologist. The most important thing is to be smart in the sun, to maintain optimal coverage, protection factor and exposure during the less hot hours. We live in a sunny country, and even what seems to us to be harmless now may harm us in the future.”
>> How can you reduce the risk of skin cancer?