McCain to release medical records

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“There are going to be no surprises,” he said aboard his campaign bus on a trip to West Virginia. His doctors “have told me that everything’s fine,” he said.

The medical records released today will cover the years 2000 to 2008. In 1999, during his first campaign for president, the senator released 1,500 pages of in-depth medical and psychiatric records, some collected during a Navy project to gauge the health of former prisoners of war.

Mr. McCain spent more than five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, where he twice attempted suicide. He suffers long-term effects from his incarceration: He broke both arms and a leg when he ejected from his plane, and prison doctors failed to properly set his broken bones. He cannot comb his own hair because he cannot lift his arms above shoulder height.

McCain biographies also portray a hard-living Navy man who drank heartily and chain-smoked throughout his youth and into middle age. He jokes that he still craves cigarettes.

The Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, one of the most highly rated medical facilities in the country, was where Mr. McCain underwent nearly six hours of surgery after he was diagnosed with Stage 2A melanoma, a form of cancer that kills one-third of sufferers within 10 years. Doctors incised a dime-sized discolored blotch from his left temple but also made an incision down his left cheek to remove lymph nodes in his neck. Later tests showed that the cancer had not spread there.

Mr. McCain’s left cheek is still puffy and laced with the large scar. He jokes on the campaign trail that “I’m older than dirt, and I’ve more scars than Frankenstein.”

But Mr. McCain still often tires out reporters half his age from his dawn-to-well-past-dusk schedule. He suffers from few maladies: His aides say he takes a low-dose aspirin daily to reduce the risk of heart attack, takes Vytorin to keep his cholesterol level (155) low, and occasionally takes a Claritin pill for allergies.

Dr. Connie Mariano, who ran the White House medical unit from 1992 to 2001, said men of Mr. McCain’s age have a primary concern. “No. 1 is neurologic: Is there any evidence of early dementia, of memory loss?”

“As everybody gets older, they run the risk of dementia,” she said. “People want to know, will this candidate survive four years in office or even eight years?”

Whenever the issue of age arises during a town hall meeting with voters, Mr. McCain points to his 96-year-old mother, Roberta, as proof that he comes from hearty genetic stock.

“If there’s any question about any age problem we might have in this campaign, there’s my genes,” Mr. McCain said at a campaign stop in Iowa in January. “Last Christmas, she went to France. She landed in Paris and wanted to rent a car. They told her she was too old so she bought one. Way to go, Mom.”

On the other hand, his father suffered a fatal heart attack at 70; his grandfather died at 61.

“Just ‘cuz your mama lived to be 100. You know, you’re a guy,” Dr. Mariano said with a laugh.

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