Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, 90, reveals information about his cancer and treatment.
In May, Carter’s health became a matter of concern after he cut short a trip to Guyana to observe national elections. Then, during a recent surgery on August 3 to remove a “small mass” from his liver, doctors discovered that his cancer had spread throughout his body.
The first step is for doctors to pinpoint where the cancer started, and exactly where it has spread in the body, according to Waterbury Republican American.
“The process usually starts with imaging — CT scans or PET scans or ultrasound — to try to get a sense of how extensive the cancer is, what organs are involved,” said Dr. Efrat Dotan, a gastrointestinal cancer specialist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. “If a biopsy has been done, pathologists often are able to say what the source is,” just by studying the types of cells involved, she said.
Finding out this information will help his doctors know if the cancer is curable, and unfortunately, cancer that has already spread widely, usually is not treatable.
Carter has lost his father, brother and two sisters, all to similar means of disease.
Previously, Carter had lost his father, brother and two sisters with the same means of disease.
“There is clearly a family history of cancer, but we don’t know if that plays a role in his current situation,” said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.
Many have spoken up in support of Mr. Carter. Vice-President Joe Biden said he was praying for Carter, who is “a great man, always upbeat and optimistic”.
“Any treatment in a 90-year-old would be carefully considered, both for its potential to help and the impact on quality of life and general health,” and his doctors likely will explain his options in those terms, Lichtenfeld said. “They’re going to pay attention to his age but he’s obviously someone who’s been very active,” not a frail older person, he said.
Mr. Carter left the White House in 1981. Since then, he has continued to carry out humanitarian efforts though his “Carter Center.” The center at Emory University helps to promote public health issues, global conflict resolution and democracy.
He has also written many books on topics ranging from Middle East peace to autobiographical books about his life and his time as president.