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McCain's Medical Records: Why the Delay?

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The mainstream media ask Obama why he doesn't wear a flag pin, but they aren't asking McCain why he doesn't release his medical records. McCain, who would be the oldest man ever elected president, had surgery for melanoma, a potentially fatal skin cancer, eight years ago -- the scar is still prominent on his face. He has promised several times to release the records, but each release has been postponed.

It makes you wonder: is there something in McCain's medical records that he doesn't want you to know?

The McCain campaign's explanation: his doctors are too busy. "The reason for the delay is because they want to gather all his doctors for a press conference to answer reporters' questions," CNN reported, "and May is the soonest that can be done." Three doctors are expected to answer questions, according to the Arizona Republic.

You'd think that it wouldn't be that hard to get three doctors together to say that the Republican candidate for president was in good health.

The last news about McCain's medical records came in a short item on CNN.com on April 3: "The McCain campaign said Wednesday the Arizona senator's medical records will no
longer be released by April 15. They now say the new timetable is 'sometime in May.'" That was the fourth time this year that the promised release of medical records has been postponed.

In March the New York Times ran a page one story about McCain's cancer and the chances that it might return. The reporter, Leonard K. Altman, who is also a physician, spoke not with McCain's physicians, but rather with melanoma experts who had not treated the senator. Those experts told the Times that "his prospects appear favorable," because he has survived this long without a recurrence of the disease.

But "with melanoma, a patient is never completely clear," said Dr. Richard L. Shapiro, a melanoma surgeon at NYU. "If melanomas do recur," the Times reported, "standard treatment options are limited for many to surgery and a difficult form of chemotherapy. The chances of long-term survival diminish."

McCain's surgery in 2000 lasted five and a half hours -- a long time. The official explanation from the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, where the surgery was performed, was that his surgeons were looking to see whether the cancer had spread from the skin on his temple to "a key lymph node in his neck." They concluded that it had not.

But, according to the Times, "Since the 2008 campaign began, doctors not connected with Mr. McCain's case have expressed intense interest in the extent of the face and neck surgery he underwent." Those doctors told the Times that "the surgery appeared to be so extensive that they were surprised his melanoma was not more serious -- perhaps Stage III, which would give him a bleaker prognosis. These doctors said they would be surprised to learn that such an operation would be performed without evidence that the melanoma had spread."

Other doctors interviewed by the Times disagreed. Release of the records would resolve this question.

If McCain is free of cancer and otherwise healthy, why doesn't he release the medical records that document those facts?

And why hasn't the mainstream media been asking for the records? The key Times piece ran on March 9, more than six weeks ago. That same day, McCain was asked on "60 Minutes" about the records, and he replied, "we'll be doing the medical records thing with the media sometime in the next month or two."

Since then the Times has mentioned McCain's medical records only once -- in an opinion piece by Frank Rich on Sunday -- one sentence in paragraph 20 of a 21-paragraph column. George Stephanopoulos didn't mention medical records to McCain in his Sunday morning TV interview, and the Washington Post ran a page one piece on Sunday about McCain that also failed to mention the missing medical records.