FOUNTAIN HILLS, Arizona (Reuters) - Republican John McCain was deemed by his doctors on Friday to be in sufficient good health to serve as president even as they reported a long history of skin cancer, colon polyps, kidney stones and dizziness.
The Arizona senator, who turns 72 in August and would be the oldest elected first-term president, “enjoys excellent health and displays extraordinary energy,” said his physician Dr. John Eckstein.
“I can find no medical reason or problems that would preclude Senator McCain from fulfilling all the duties and obligations of president of the United States,” he said in a statement.
McCain’s health records were made available by the Mayo Clinic of nearby Scottsdale to a small group of reporters. The McCain campaign organized the release to try put to rest lingering questions about his health and ability to handle the rigors of the presidency.
An executive summary of McCain’s records said he has no heart problems and was able to exercise at a high level in a treadmill stress test. He smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for 25 years until stopping in 1980.
The records showed that McCain has chronic shoulder pain and moderate pain of the right knee from injuries he received when as he was shot down as Navy pilot and spent 5 1/2 years in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp.
Also, he has had some common health problems including benign colon polyps that were removed and kidney stones. As recently as March 29, McCain had a total of six polyps removed during a colonoscopy.
Major surgery on his face in 2000 removed a melanoma, a skin cancer that can be deadly. The surgery left a noticeable scar and bulge down the left side of his face.
One source of concern about McCain for many Americans is his age, and McCain has sought to address any questions by pursuing a vigorous campaign, but until now has not released detailed information about his health.
His likely Democratic opponent in the November election, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, will be 47 in August. Obama, a basketball player, says he has given up smoking but has not released his medical records.
The 1,173 pages of health records detailed McCain’s struggle with skin cancer in which four malignant melanomas were removed in 1993, 2000 and 2002. None of these represented a recurrence of any previous melanoma, a summary of the report said.
Of the most serious bout, the melanoma removed in 2000, there has been no evidence that the cancer spread, and his skin doctor, Suzanne Connolly, noted that the period of greatest risk for a recurrence is within the first few years.
A review of the records showed he has had frequent removals of sun-exposure related growths, the most recent when “a very early squamous cell carcinoma” was excised by shave biopsy from his right upper shin in February.
His most recent skin exam was May 12 and he has regular checkups every three or four months.
“Other less serious skin cancers have been removed over the years without complication. These have been non-melanoma basal cell and squamous cell cancers,” the report said.
McCain’s health records showed his blood pressure and weight are healthy. He has occasional bouts of dizziness when he stands suddenly, but tests have shown they are not a concern.
A doctor’s report from a February 6 exam said he takes medicine to control his cholesterol, along with a baby aspirin, allergy medicine and occasionally uses the sleep-inducing drug Ambien.
A regular drinker in his young days, he now has about two alcoholic drinks a month.
(Editing by Jackie Frank and Vicki Allen)
To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at http:/blogs.reuters.com/trail08/