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FDR Might Have Had Melanoma
Date:4/25/2008

Researcher suggests large lesion above his left eyebrow was possibly skin cancer

FRIDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- Though shrouded in secrecy during his lifetime, historians have gone to great lengths to posthumously chronicle the mysterious circumstances surrounding the health of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States.

That he suffered from both polio and heart disease is now well-documented. But a new study suggests that he may also have had -- and possibly even died from -- melanoma.

"I'm not stating unequivocally that he had melanoma," said study author Dr. A. Bernard Ackerman, director of the Ackerman Academy of Dermatopathology in New York City. "But it sure looks like it."

The source of the supposition is the 30-year presence of a pigmented lesion above FDR's left eyebrow -- a mark that appears in innumerable photographs.

Ackerman presents his case in the April issue of the Archives of Dermatology. However, he acknowledges that proving or disproving the contention amounts to a practical impossibility, given that at FDR's death an autopsy was never conducted, and that the lesion in question was never biopsied.

"The only way to prove it is to do a biopsy," he said. "So it could be that it was a sunspot, an age spot, a liver spot -- all synonyms for 'solar lentigo'. We don't know. But I will say that it is something that any competent doctor today would look at and say reflexively is melanoma."

FDR died at the age of 63 on April 12, 1945, shortly after flying a strenuous 14,000 miles to attend the now famous Yalta Conference -- a key meeting held between himself, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin, leading up to the end of World War II.

At the time, the cause of death was declared to be a cerebral hemorrhage, most probably associated with high blood pressure.

Yet most of FDR's medical records are missing. And contemporaneou
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