U.S. first lady Jill Biden had cancerous skin lesions removed from her face and chest during surgery on Wednesday, and a third lesion was removed from her left eyelid and sent for examination, the White House physician said.
The 71-year-old first lady, accompanied by President Joe Biden, spent more than eight hours at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for the outpatient procedure.
All cancerous tissue was removed, the White House physician said.
The president returned to the White House later on Wednesday afternoon. The first lady was returning separately, her office said.
Jill Biden went to the hospital for removal of a skin lesion above her right eye. White House physician Kevin O’Connor said in a statement that the procedure “confirmed that the small lesion was basal cell carcinoma.”
“All cancerous tissue was successfully removed, and the margins were clear of any residual skin cancer cells. We will monitor the area closely as it heals, but do not anticipate any more procedures will be needed,” he said.
In addition, a small lesion was discovered on Jill Biden’s left eyelid and it was fully excised and sent for further examination, O’Connor said.
During her preoperative consultation, an additional “area of concern” was identified on the left side of the first lady’s chest, and it was consistent with potential basal cell carcinoma, O’Connor said.
This lesion also was excised and basal cell carcinoma was confirmed. “Again, all cancerous tissue was successfully removed,” O’Connor said.
Basal cell carcinoma lesions do not tend to “spread,” or metastasize, as some more serious skin cancers such as melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma are known to do, the doctor added.
They do, however, have the potential to increase in size, resulting in a more significant issue as well as increased challenges for surgical removal, he said.
Jill Biden was experiencing some facial swelling and bruising, but was in good spirits and feeling well, O’Connor said.
The president and first lady arrived at the Walter Reed facility in suburban Bethesda, Maryland, just after 8 a.m. EST on Wednesday.
President Biden “wanted to be there to support her,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “They’ve been married for 45 years now and he wanted to be there with his wife.”
The first lady underwent a common procedure known as Mohs surgery to remove and definitively examine the tissue.
Mohs surgery involves cutting away thin layers of skin after which each is looked at closely for signs of cancer. The process continues until there is no sign of cancer, preserving healthy tissue and reducing the need for further treatment.
The Bidens are passionate advocates in efforts to combat cancer.
Last year President Biden announced an initiative to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years as part of an effort to revive the “Cancer Moonshot” program that began while he was vice president under Democratic President Barack Obama.
Biden’s son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46.