U.S. Senator John McCain has been diagnosed with brain cancer, the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix said Wednesday.
A malignant tumor was discovered after the Republican senator from Arizona, who is 80, underwent a surgical procedure last week to remove a 5-centimeter blood clot behind his left eye.
“Subsequent tissue pathology revealed that a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was associated with the blood clot,” the hospital said.
“The senator’s doctors say he is recovering from his surgery ‘amazingly well’ and his underlying health is excellent,” a statement from McCain’s office said. “Further consultations with the Mayo Clinic care team will indicate when he will return to the United States Senate.”
McCain, a Vietnam War hero who has been in the Senate for more than 30 years, and his family are said to be considering options for further treatment, which most often include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.
“It won’t surprise you to learn that in all this, the one of us who is most confident and calm is my father,” McCain’s daughter, Meghan, said. “He is the toughest person I know.”
He has survived multiple health crises in the past, including melanoma — the most dangerous form of skin cancer — and a variety of problems caused by his incarceration in Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camps from 1967-73.
At the White House, President Donald Trump said: “Senator John McCain has always been a fighter. Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain, [his wife] Cindy and their entire family. Get well soon.”
The Republican Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell, added his thoughts in a separate statement: “John McCain is a hero to our [Republican Party] and a hero to our country. He has never shied from a fight and I know that he will face this challenge with the same extraordinary courage that has characterized his life. The entire Senate family’s prayers are with John, Cindy and his family, his staff, and the people of Arizona he represents so well.”
Former President Barack Obama, who won office by defeating McCain in the 2008 election, offered his support in a Twitter message: “John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters I’ve ever known. Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell, John.”
McCain was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986. His absence from Washington this week had forced McConnell to delay planned action on health care legislation.
Glioblastoma is a particularly aggressive cancer that forms tumors in the brain and spinal cord, according to the American Brain Tumor Association. The same form of cancer was a prime cause of the death in 2009 of Senator Ted Kennedy, a brother of the assassinated former U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
The American Cancer Society estimates that people who develop glioblastoma after the age of 55 have a five-year survival rate of 4 percent.