Navigation Links
FDR Might Have Had Melanoma

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 contemporaneous efforts taken by FDR's personal physician -- Dr. Ross T. McIntire -- to preserve FDR's medical privacy were legendary and thorough.

Most of the American public, for one, had no idea that FDR had contracted polio in 1921, and that throughout his 12 years at the White House he was unable to walk without assistance.

That said, nothing by way of written proof has ever surfaced to suggest that FDR had melanoma or died of the disease.

But, as Ackerman points out, this is no surprise given that "no one would have ever suspected melanoma at that period in time."

"This to me is one of the most fascinating and gripping aspects of this case," said Ackerman. "Here's a man who is one of the most photographed men in the world, walking around in public daily with something that looks like a melanoma on his face. And no one says a word. Because going back to the 1930s and '40s, no one knew what it was."

Melanoma is a cancer of the thin top layer of the skin, called the epidermis, which strikes the melanocyte cells that are responsible for the brown protective pigmentation that emerges following sun exposure. According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma accounts for about 3 percent of all skin cancer cases in the United States, and that more than 62,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease this year. But it causes most skin cancer deaths -- about 8,420 Americans will die of this disease this year.

Melanoma is usually curable if caught early. The appearance of new moles or freckles or visible changes in skin patterns is sometimes, but not always, an early indicator of trouble. To conduct self-screening, doctors suggest following the so-called "ABCDE" rule.

Such a self-exam focuses on several factors: "Asymmetry" (when one half of a mole is different from the other half); "Border irregularity" (when the edges are irregular); "Color" (when the shading is not uniform); "Diameter" (when the mole is larger than one-quarter of an inch in size); and "Elevation" (when the mole is raised or bumpy).

Ackerman and his study co-author, Dr. Steven Lomazow, of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, pointed out that FDR's mole -- which was about one inch by three-quarters of an inch at its largest stage -- does check off as suspicious on all aspects of the ABCDE criteria.

Nevertheless, they also admit that a range of other pigmented lesions could have accounted for the marking's characteristics.

And Dr. Vijay Trisal, an assistant professor of surgical oncology at the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif., said that he was not persuaded by visual evidence that FDR had melanoma or died of the disease.

"First of all, what you have to understand is that in this country today, out of every hundred lesions we think are suspicious for melanoma, only one is a melanoma and the rest are nothing," he noted. "And with a purely visual diagnosis, in most cases we can get only a 5 percent accuracy."

"Specifically with respect to FDR's case," he added, "I would say given the size of the lesion and the irregular color pattern, there is a 30 or 40 percent range of accuracy in visually diagnosing it."

Such hesitancy aside, Trisal suggested that if FDR indeed had melanoma it was probably not life-threatening.

"It seems more like a less aggressive 'lentigo-maligna' type of melanoma," he said. "One that typically grows slowly, with little effect on longevity.

"So I don't get the feeling that they [the study authors] made a strong argument about melanoma being the cause of death," Trisal concluded.

More information

For additional information on melanoma, visit the American Cancer Society.

SOURCES: A. Bernard Ackerman, M.D., director, Ackerman Academy of Dermatopathology, New York City; Vijay Trisal, M.D. assistant professor, surgical oncology, City of Hope Cancer Center, Duarte, Calif.; April 2008, Archives of Dermatology

Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Fish Oil Might Help Relieve MS
2. HIV Drug Might Fight Cancer
3. High and mighty: first common height gene identified by researchers behind obesity gene finding
4. Vitamin C Plus Fat Might Spur Cancer
5. Mathematics might save you a trip to the ER
6. Veggies Might Ward Off Age-Linked Vision Woes
7. Rating your pain from 0 to 10 might not help your doctor
8. Blood Marker Might Help Spot Early Liver Cancer
9. Hushed Genes Might Mean Higher Lung Cancer Risk
10. Mathematics might save you a trip to the ER
11. More Prostate Cancers Might Be Prevented
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/26/2016)... Michigan (PRWEB) , ... June 26, 2016 , ... ... to fertility once they have been diagnosed with endometriosis. These women need a ... they also require a comprehensive approach that can help for preservation of fertility ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... FL (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... The temporary closing of Bruton Memorial ... Plant City Observer , brings up a new, often overlooked aspect of head lice: the ... closing for fumigation is not a common occurrence, but a necessary one in the event ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 2016 , ... As a lifelong Southern Californian, Dr. Omkar Marathe earned his ... David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He trained in Internal Medicine at Scripps ... in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program where he had the opportunity to ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Conventional wisdom preaches the benefits of moderation, whether ... latter, setting the bar too high can result in disappointment, perhaps even self-loathing. However, ... their goal. , Research from reveals that behind the tendency ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... June 19, 2016 is World Sickle Cell Observance ... and the benefits of holistic treatments, Serenity Recovery Center of Marne, Michigan, ... Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a disorder of the red blood cells, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 VolitionRx ... of Dr. Edward Futcher to the ... effective June 23, 2016.Dr. Futcher was also appointed ... Governance Committees.  As a non-executive member of the ... and strategic counsel to VolitionRx in connection with ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016  MedSource announced today that it ... software solution of choice.  This latest decision demonstrates ... to their clients by offering a state-of-the-art electronic ... establishes nowEDC as the EDC platform of choice ... clients.  "nowEDC has long been a preferred EDC ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Any dentist who has made an implant ... process. Many of them do not even offer this as ... high laboratory costs involved. And those who ARE able to ... a high cost that the majority of today,s patients would ... Parsa Zadeh , founder of Dental Evolutions Inc. and inventor ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: