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McCain to return to Arizona for cancer treatment

U.S. Sen. John McCain will return to Arizona to undergo radiation treatment and chemotherapy at the Mayo Clinic, his office said. McCain was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer after surgery to remove a two-inch clot from his brain two weeks ago.

Just a week after announcing that he had been diagnosed with a serious brain cancer that is nearly always deadly, McCain headed to Washington, D.C., where he played a pivotal role in the failed GOP attempt to repeal Obamacare.

McCain — who had an operation on July 14 to remove a 2-inch clot from his brain that was later identified as glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer — joined two other Republican senators in voting "no" on the so-called "skinny repeal" plan. McCain, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and all 48 Democrats in the Senate narrowly defeated the attempt to roll back the Affordable Care Act, tanking the move on a 49-51 vote.

The 80-year-old Republican senator from Arizona had a two-inch blood clot removed from his brain above his left eye on July 14. Surgeons at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix performed the operation, which required a craniotomy near his eyebrow. Last Wednesday, his doctors and staff announced that he had been diagnosed with the deadly form of brain cancer.

Friday, his office said that McCain will begin a "standard post-surgical regimen of targeted radiation and chemotherapy" on Monday, and that the senator will "maintain a work schedule."

McCain "plans to return to Washington at the conclusion of the August recess," his office said.

2-inch clot removed

Pathology "revealed that a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was associated with the blood clot," his doctors said in a statement released by his office last Wednesday.

Glioblastomas generally recur, despite surgery and cancer treatments, and most patients live 12-15 months after diagnosis. Less than 3-5 percent live longer than five years, with those patients who are not treated dying within three months.

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McCain's doctors said then that he was "recovering from his surgery ‘amazingly well’ and his underlying health is excellent."

Last Thursday morning, McCain tweeted that he would "be back soon."

"I greatly appreciate the outpouring of support - unfortunately for my sparring partners in Congress, I'll be back soon, so stand-by!," he said.


Glioblastoma is the same variety of cancer that killed Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., in 2009. Kennedy was diagnosed in 2008 after a seizure. It is also the research focus for the Ivy Foundation – for which McCain was a featured speaker in an undated testimonial video.

According to the American Cancer Society, glioblastoma tumors are a fast-growing category of brain tumors that begin in the glial cells, which surround the central nervous system.

McCain's office said he is "grateful to the doctors and staff at Mayo Clinic for their outstanding care, and is confident that any future treatment will be effective."

He has had less-aggressive cancers before. McCain had surgery to remove Stage IIa melanoma in 2000, including removing the lymph nodes on the left side of his neck. He has had four operations to remove skin cancers since 1993, and at least one non-cancerous mole removed as a precaution, in 2008.

McCain was reelected to a sixth six-year term in 2016.

Cronkite News reporter J.T. Lain contributed to this report.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

McCain in 2014