Oncology Organizations Remember Senator John McCain


United States Senator from Arizona John McCain passed away on August 25 of the brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Numerous medical societies issued statements in light of his death, reprinted below.


ASCO President Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD, FACS, FASCO, issued the following statement: 

“The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) mourns the passing of Arizona Senator John McCain from glioblastoma multiforme. During his more than 30 years in Congress, Senator McCain represented a bipartisan spirit and a commitment to his country that will be truly missed. 

“Senator McCain advocated for many issues of importance to ASCO and its members, including U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco products, interoperability of electronic health records, and medical research supported by the National Institutes of Health. A survivor of recurring melanoma, he was also steadfast in raising awareness on the importance of wearing sunscreen to prevent skin cancer whenever he could. His struggle with [glioblastoma multiforme], an aggressive form of brain cancer, is a painful illustration of the need for critical research that will accelerate progress against this disease. 

“ASCO extends its deepest sympathy to Senator McCain’s family and will continue to work with Congress to carry out his legacy of building consensus on issues impacting our nation.” 

National Brain Tumor Society

“We are profoundly saddened to learn of the senator’s passing, and our thoughts immediately go out to his family, friends, staff, colleagues and loved ones in this difficult time…This news is a further, painful reminder that brain cancer is nonpartisan and unsparing across the conventional lines that unfortunately divide us in this nation. It can inflict men, women, children of any race, socioeconomic background, or party affiliation. It has taken from us Beau Biden…Edward 'Ted' Kennedy, and now the 'Maverick.' Glioblastoma is indeed one of the most complex, aggressive, and difficult-to-treat of any cancer and there are few effective treatment options for patients.”

“If there is to be any upshot from this difficult news, it should be greater urgency with which this country rallies to support the nearly 700,000 Americans currently living with a glioblastoma or other brain tumor, while honoring the brave that have been taken from us by this disease.”

“As Senator McCain often implored during his campaign for president, we as a country are stronger when we dedicate ourselves to ‘causes greater than [our] own self-interest.’ That is our hope at the National Brain Tumor Society; that 2018 will be the year that many across the country came together in a concerted effort, with renewed vigor, to pave the road toward a future of more effective treatments and ultimately a cure. Let this be the moment in our history that we decide to collectively take on glioblastoma and brain tumors with the same earnest with which we dedicate to our other national ills.”

American Medical Association

Barbara L. McAneny, MD, President of the American Medical Association, issued this statement:

“Few people have served our country with as much distinction as Senator John McCain. His remarkable impact on health-care was in keeping with the way he lived his life and served his nation—doing what he felt was right, even when it was not easy—putting his fellow citizens above politics. Today, we honor Senator McCain’s life, mourn his death, and wish condolences to his family.”

American Association for Cancer Research

“On behalf of the board of directors of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), and the 40,000 laboratory researchers, physician-scientists, other health-care professionals, and patient advocates who constitute our national and international membership, we are deeply saddened by the loss of Senator John McCain, who passed away yesterday after battling one of the most lethal cancers, GBM.”

“Senator McCain was an extraordinary leader in Congress for more than 30 years, which included a steadfast commitment to and support for the medical research that is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Senator McCain consistently recognized the extraordinary public health benefits of the medical research that Congress and America’s taxpayers make possible each year through the NIH, and he talked frequently about how research extends, improves, and saves the lives of so many Americans.”

“GBM is a malignant tumor that starts in the brain or spinal cord and accounts for about 45% of all primary brain tumors, with about 11,000 diagnoses in men, women, and children every year. This terrible disease kills about 85% of those diagnosed within 5 years, and approximately 50% of those diagnosed will die within 18 months. These statistics underscore the dire need for more groundbreaking research in this particular area of cancer science and medicine, as well as an enhanced focus on developing innovative approaches to confront GBM. Such approaches include novel basic and translational science, the physical science and computational biology related to oncology, combination therapies, and new clinical trial designs, eg, the adaptive clinical trial design in the GBM Agile trial.”

National Cancer Institute

National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director Norman E. Sharpless, MD, issued the following statement:

“The passing of Senator John McCain is a moment of true sadness for our country. Few have served this country for so long and with such commitment and distinction.”

“Even as he underwent treatment for an aggressive brain cancer, Senator McCain continued to play an active role in Congress—something that comes as no surprise, given his lifelong legacy of dedication and service.”

“Shortly after his diagnosis in July 2017, Senator McCain received treatment at the NIH Clinical Center, under the care of NCI physicians and nurses. In November of last year, in a kind and gracious speech on the Senate floor, he thanked those at NCI who directly provided that care.

During that speech, he also took the time to thank all of those engaged in cancer research and care, hailing what he called the ‘patient forms of bravery exemplified by our doctors and nurses and research scientists.’”

“To be called brave by a courageous and upstanding man like Senator McCain is very high praise. Senator McCain, and his upholding of the ideals of commitment to a greater good, will be dearly missed.”

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.