WASHINGTON (CBS13/AP) — Arizona Sen. John McCain has been diagnosed with brain cancer.
The cancer was discovered during a surgery to remove a blood clot from the 80-year-old Senator on Friday. The surgery revealed a glioblastoma, according to the Mayo Clinic.
A glioblastoma is a fast-growing brain tumor. Symptoms include headaches, nausea and even personality changes. They can form rapidly and commonly affect older people.
About 20,000 people in the U.S. each year are diagnosed with a glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive type of brain tumor. The American Cancer Society puts the five-year survival rate for patients over 55 at about 4 percent.
The tumor digs tentacle-like roots into normal brain tissue. Patients fare best when surgeons can cut out all the visible tumor, which happened with McCain’s tumor, according to his office.
The clinic released the information at McCain’s request.
McCain’s family is currently reviewing further treatment options. A statement from McCain’s office says he is confident that future treatment will be effective.
His daughter Meghan McCain released a statement
The news of my father’s illness has affected every one of us in the McCain family. My grandmother, mother, brothers, sister, and I have all endured the shock of the news, and now we live with the anxiety about what comes next. It is an experience familiar to us, given my father’s previous battle with cancer — and it is familiar to the countless American families whose loved ones are also stricken with the tragedy of disease and the inevitability of age. If we could ask anything of anyone now, it would be the prayers of those of you who understand this all too well. We would be so grateful for them.
It won’t surprise you to learn that in all this, the one of us who is the most confident and calm is my father. He is the toughest person I know. The cruelest enemy could not break him. The aggressions of political life could not bend him. So he is meeting this challenge as he has every other. Cancer may afflict him in many ways: But it will not make him surrender. Nothing ever has.
My love for my father is boundless, and like any daughter I cannot and do not wish to be in a world without him. I have faith that those days remain far away. Yet even in this moment, my fears for him are overwhelmed by one thing above all: Gratitude for our years together, and the years still to come. He is a warrior at dusk, one of the greatest Americans of our age, and the worthy heir to his father’s and grandfather’s name. But to me, he is something more. He is my strength, my example, my refuge, my confidante, my teacher, my rock, my hero — my dad.
The senator and chairman of the Armed Services Committee had been recovering at his Arizona home. His absence had forced Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to delay action on health care legislation.
In a statement, McConnell said: “John McCain is a hero to our Conference 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.”
McCain was the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2008, when he and running mate Sarah Palin lost to Barack Obama. A Navy pilot, he was shot down over Vietnam and held as a prisoner for 5 ½ years.
Doctors say McCain is recovering from his surgery amazingly well and his underlying health is excellent, according to the statement.
His office disclosed the removal of the blood clot late Saturday and said the senator was awaiting pathology reports. In the past, McCain had been treated for melanoma.
In a statement on Twitter, his daughter, Meghan McCain, said: “My love for my father is boundless and like any daughter I cannot and do not wish to be in a world without him. I have faith that those days remain far away.”
With his irascible grin and fighter-pilot moxie, McCain was elected to the Senate from Arizona six times, but twice thwarted in seeking the presidency.
An upstart presidential bid in 2000 didn’t last long. Eight years later, he fought back from the brink of defeat to win the GOP nomination, only to be overpowered by Obama. McCain chose a little-known Alaska governor as his running mate in that race, and helped turn Palin into a national political figure.
After losing to Obama in an electoral landslide, McCain returned to the Senate, determined not to be defined by a failed presidential campaign. And when Republicans took control of the Senate in 2015, McCain embraced his new job as chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee, eager to play a big role “in defeating the forces of radical Islam that want to destroy America.”
Throughout his long tenure in Congress, McCain has played his role with trademark verve, at one hearing dismissing a protester by calling out, “Get out of here, you low-life scum.”
McCain stuck by the party’s 2016 presidential nominee, Donald Trump, at times seemingly through gritted teeth — until the release a month before the election of a lewd audio in which Trump said he could kiss and grab women. Declaring that the breaking point, McCain withdrew his support and said he would write in “some good conservative Republican who’s qualified to be president.”
He had largely held his tongue earlier in the campaign when Trump questioned his status as a war hero by saying: “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
McCain said that was offensive to veterans, but “the best thing to do is put it behind us and move forward.”
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.