In past elections, the decisions of some candidates for the nation’s top elected offices to withhold health information turned out to have a significant impact after the information came to light. This year, the health issue carries extraordinary significance because two of the four nominees have survived potentially fatal medical problems that could recur.
If elected, Senator John McCain of Arizona, 72, the Republican nominee, would be the oldest man to be sworn in to a first term as president and the first cancer survivor to win the office. The scars on his puffy left cheek are cosmetic reminders of the extensive surgery he underwent in 2000 to remove a malignant melanoma.
Last May, his campaign and his doctors released nearly 1,200 pages of medical information, far more than the three other nominees. But the documents were released in a restricted way that leaves questions, even confusion, about his cancer.
A critical question concerns inconsistencies in medical opinions about the severity of his melanoma; if the classification of his melanoma is more severe, it would increase the statistical likelihood of death from a recurrence of the cancer.