Archibald Biden IV, son of former US vice-president Joe Biden, was diagnosed with a potentially precancerous polyp during prostate cancer treatment last year, a public health official has said.
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Susan Best, director of the Office of National Cancer Control, said in testimony to the Senate’s health committee that Biden’s recovery was “predictable and anticipated” as a result of “a combination of factors”, and she announced that Biden and his wife, Jill, would donate cancer-fighting technology to US Department of Defense research programmes.
“The revelation that he had a biopsy during his prostate cancer treatment is a significant development,” Best told the committee, which met on Thursday to review reforms in the National Cancer Institute’s grants funding process. “On the one hand, prostate cancer is a high-profile cancer, and public discussion about the types of cancer that we know are the most aggressive and treatable in the United States helps raise awareness of a serious disease.”
The disclosure provided new details about Biden’s treatment for the illness, which he was first diagnosed with in 2015. He spent several months undergoing treatments, including surgery and radiation, before announcing in January 2016 that he was now cancer-free.
“Like so many Americans, my family and I, we were reminded of how life-threatening cancer can be,” Biden said at the time.
He also has a history of other prostate cancers, according to government documents.
During last year’s presidential campaign, Biden’s son Beau, who served as vice-president on President Barack Obama’s second term, died of brain cancer at the age of 46. The elder Biden campaign issued a statement on Thursday after his son’s condition became public, thanking the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee for his “courage” during the years they had together.
“Throughout their lives, all three of our children learned that service to others is the highest calling we could hope for,” Beau Biden’s children said. “Their service reminds us that there is no limit to what we can accomplish when we put aside our differences and come together as one America.”
The American Cancer Society predicted earlier this month that more than 191,000 Americans would be diagnosed with the disease this year, and that 46,660 would die of it. Among cancer-related deaths, prostate cancer is expected to account for about 12,000 of those.
Best told the Senate committee that in October 2016, Biden experienced a sudden, worsening pain in his abdomen and asked a doctor to examine him immediately.
“While rushing to an urgent meeting, I would not have recognized the pain or the serious nature of the problem,” Biden told the Senate committee on Thursday. “The immediate diagnosis included an abnormal mammogram, which alarmed the doctor and medical team.”
Biden was diagnosed with a benign growth called a pelvic polyp, which led to additional blood tests and additional scans. During his second treatment, he had an MRSA infection that involved both legs, cutting short his treatment.
In a recent radio interview, Biden said he’d realized a cancer diagnosis would be uncomfortable at first, but he also has long appreciated the knowledge that such an event is a common occurrence among American men.
“You’re getting treated, and you’re getting through it,” he said on a podcast sponsored by SiriusXM and turned into a presidential campaign petition to encourage others to get screened. “I’m just hoping everybody else is listening.”