McCain has spot removed from his face for biopsy

BAKERSFIELD, California (Reuters) - U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who has suffered from skin cancer in the past, said his doctor removed a spot from his face during a routine checkup in Phoenix on Monday.

McCain said the spot on the right side of his face, which an aide described as being like a mole, would be checked to ensure it was not cancerous.

“As a precaution, a biopsy was ordered of a very small area on Senator McCain’s right cheek,” Michael Yardley, a spokesman for the Mayo Clinic, where McCain saw his doctor, said in a statement. “This is a routine minor procedure.”

The Arizona senator discussed the spot while speaking to journalists at an oil field in Bakersfield, California, where he was pushing his energy agenda.

“I, as I do every three months, visited my dermatologist this morning. She said that I was doing fine,” McCain said, adding the doctor “took a small little nick from my cheek as she does regularly and that will be ... biopsied just to make sure that everything is fine.”

The spot, visible on the senator’s face and not covered by a bandage, appeared to be about the size of a small coin.

McCain, who turns 72 in August, has had four malignant melanomas -- a potentially lethal type of skin cancer -- surgically removed since 1993. Three of them were limited to the top layers of the skin and were not invasive.

The fourth melanoma, removed from his left temple in 2000, was invasive. During that surgery, doctors also took out lymph nodes to see if the cancer had spread. The lymph nodes showed no evidence of cancer.

Doctors have removed other less serious skin cancers, including basal cell and squamous cell cancers, from McCain’s skin without complication.

As a skin cancer survivor, McCain remains at risk for recurrence or new cancers. He urged Americans to wear sunscreen and said melanoma is preventable.

“I want to again urge all Americans to wear sunscreen, particularly this summer, to stay out of the sun as much as possible,” he said, with his wife Cindy standing next to him.

“Remember, a lot of the damage that people receive from the sun when they’re young sometimes comes back later in life.”

Editing by David Alexander and John O’Callaghan