WASHINGTON — Jill Biden, the first lady, plans to undergo surgery next week to have a “small lesion” over her right eye removed and examined after it was discovered during a skin cancer screening, the White House physician said.
It is not clear if the lesion is a danger to Dr. Biden’s health, but the outpatient procedure that she will undergo is often used to treat skin cancer or remove tissue that could be cancerous. Dr. Kevin C. O’Connor, who was President Biden’s longtime personal physician before becoming the White House physician, said in a statement that doctors recommended that the lesion be removed “in an abundance of caution” so it could be “definitively” examined.
Dr. O’Connor added that doctors would provide an update after the procedure, known as Mohs surgery, which will be performed next Wednesday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The Biden White House has often disclosed routine examinations, minor surgeries and other health updates for the president and the first lady as Mr. Biden, the oldest president in American history, has sought to assure the public of his fitness to serve.
Dr. Biden, now 71, underwent surgery in 2021 to remove debris from a puncture wound in her left foot after stepping on an object while walking on the beach in Hawaii. The White House announced that day that the surgery had taken place.
Laura Bush, the wife of President George W. Bush, waited more than a month to disclose that she had a malignant tumor on her right leg removed around the time of the election in November 2006. The Bush White House was criticized at the time for not immediately disclosing the diagnosis or the surgery to remove the cancer. President Ronald Reagan also waited to disclose that he had skin cancer in 1985 until after the cancerous growth on his nose had been removed — just a month after he underwent surgery to treat a more serious type of colon cancer.
Cancer has been one of Dr. Biden’s areas of focus as first lady. She founded the Biden Breast Health Initiative in 1993 after four of her friends were diagnosed with breast cancer, and she has traveled the country urging cancer screenings and support for cancer patients and their families. The Bidens have both spoken of the pain of losing their son Beau to brain cancer, and Dr. Biden has joined her husband in his efforts to promote his “moonshot” initiative to drastically reduce cancer deaths.