US Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee known for political independence during more than three decades in the Senate, has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, his office says.
The 80-year-old congressman and former navy pilot has been recovering at home in Arizona since undergoing surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix on Friday to remove a blood clot from above his left eye.
Tissue analysis since that procedure revealed a brain tumour known as a glioblastoma was associated with the clot, his office said on Wednesday.
McCain’s doctors said he was recovering from surgery “amazingly well” and his underlying health was excellent.
Treatment options include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.
However, glioblastoma is considered a grade IV tumour, the most malignant of gliomas.
Medical experts said it can be very aggressive and spread into other parts of the brain quickly.
McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, said the family was shocked by the diagnosis but her father was the “most confident and calm” of them all about the situation.
McCain has had non-invasive melanomas removed at least three times.
He also overcame injuries suffered as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, where he endured beatings and torture by his North Vietnamese captors.
His fellow members of Congress rushed to offer support to McCain and wishes for his quick recovery.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a long-time friend, said McCain was “resolved and determined” when they spoke by telephone.
“This disease has never had a more worthy opponent,” he said
“Senator John McCain has always been a fighter,” President Donald Trump said.
“Get well soon.”
Former Democratic president Barack Obama, who defeated McCain for the White House in 2008, called McCain “an American hero and one of the bravest fighters I’ve ever known. Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell, John.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he looked forward to having McCain, the chairman of the armed services committee, back in Washington.
McCain, the son and grandson of admirals, was a US Navy pilot.
His plane was shot down over Vietnam in 1967 and he spent five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war.
When he was offered release because of his father’s rank, McCain refused to be freed before those who had been held captive longer.
He finally returned to the US in 1973.
McCain’s absence this week has complicated efforts by his fellow Republicans to repeal Obama’s Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.
McCain’s absence from Washington makes it difficult for McConnell to gather the 50 votes he needs in a chamber where the party holds only a 52-48-seat margin.