The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal

MAY 2014

The 2012 edition of The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal features medically reviewed, reader-friendly articles such as tanning, the increasing incidence of skin cancer diagnoses among young women, & the prevalence of melanoma among white males over 50.

Issue link: http://skincancer.epubxp.com/i/319518

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48 S K I N C A N C E R F O U N D A T I O N J O U R N A L Covert Ops: Skin Cancer Surgery in the Reagan White House In the mid-1980s, with the Cold War simmer- ing, the United States was pulling out all the stops to prevent Iron Curtain countries from discovering our state secrets. But one secret was meant to be kept from the American public: President Ronald Reagan's skin cancers. oth in 1985 and 1987, Drs. Martin Braun and Harry L. (Ted) Parlette removed basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) from President Ronald Reagan's nose. The President had been an athlete and out- doorsman who spent much of his life in California's blaz- ing sun, which left him highly vulnerable to skin cancer. It caught up to him in 1985. The Presidents' physicians invited two esteemed practitioners of Mohs micrographic surgery to the White House, since cure rates with Mohs surgery for BCC, squamous cell carcinoma, and certain other skin cancers are the highest of any method. It is also an excellent technique for small areas around the face, so it was ideal for the President's skin cancer. [ See "Why Mohs Surgery?" on page 50. ] Plus, Drs. Parlette and Braun were local, so they could easily come back and forth to the White House for surgery and follow-up away from reporters' prying eyes. Getting the Call I n the fall of 1985, early in President Reagan's second term, Dr. Braun, Past President of the American College of Mohs Surgery, received a call from Admiral William Narva, Chairman of Dermatology at the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, MD. Before Narva would say why he was calling, he extracted a promise of secrecy. "The President had just healed from colon cancer surgery, and they were sick of surgeons criticizing one another for mismanag- ing the operation, so they wanted this kept from everybody," Dr. Braun recalls. "I said I'd just tell my wife," and Dr. Narva Health C. William Hanke, MD Photo © Getty Images

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