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

s 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 la
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