Health and Medical History of President

James Carter

President #39: 1977-1981
Lived 1924-Now
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Health and Medical History of President

James Carter

President #39: 1977-1981
Lived 1924-Now
Lived 1924-Now 2023 1776
Revolutionary War
War of 1812
Mexican-American War
Civil War
Spanish-American War
World War 1
World War 2
Korean War
Viet Nam War
Desert Storm
Bush's Wars

Maladies & Conditions  · pancreatic cancer · height · "runner's high" · tear gas eye irritation · hemorrhoids · metastatic melanoma · hospice

Odds & Ends · Doctors · Resources · Cited Sources

Maladies and Conditions
pancreatic cancer
Carter's two sisters, his brother, and his father died of pancreatic cancer. His mother had pancreatic, bone, and breast cancer when she died at age 85. McKusick speculates whether an environmental agent, such as an agricultural chemical or aflatoxin, could be responsible OMIM 260350.
Carter was 5 feet 9 and 1/2 inches tall 1. During the 1976 presidential campaign, ex-football player Gerald Ford would make fun of his height 2a.
"runner's high"
Near collapse while running
tear gas eye irritation
"In 1977, on the Shah [of Iran]'s state visit to Washington, the Shah and the President stood for their commemorative photograph, wiping their eyes from the tear gas being used to keep the anti-Shah demonstrators at bay" 3a.
In 1978, Carter had to leave a Christmas party for White House staffers "to receive emergency treatment" for a painful hemorrhoid that left him "almost completely incapacitated from participating in any kind of public events" 4a.

For the first and only time during his Presidency, Carter cancelled all his scheduled events for the next day. He was given an injection of Demerol and slept at least part of that day. It was difficult for Carter to walk 4a.

The problem was successfully concealed from the public -- for a time. On Christmas Eve, however, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt "announced to the world that his good friend Jimmy had hemorrhoids and made a public appeal for all Egyptians... to pray on this holy day that I would be cured. ... The day after Christmas, for the first time in weeks, all the pain and discomfort went away. I was tempted to make a public announcement thanking people of all faiths for their prayers, but decided that we'd had enough publicity about my ailment. In any case, I've never received a better Christmas gift or felt more grateful for personal benefits that resulted from a nation at prayer" 4a.

Carter mentions that he was "first afflicted" with hemorrhoids as a young submarine officer, "but this time it was much worse than ever before" 4a. It therefore appears this was a recurrent problem for him.

metastatic melanoma
In 2015 Carter was found to have malignant melanoma, including spread to liver and brain. Not many years beforehand, this would have been a terminal diagnosis, but new anti-cancer immunotherapies were successfully used. Carter was declared cancer-free later than year 5.
At age 98, Carter elected to enter home hospice care in February 2023. He did not then disclose specific reasons, but his health had reportedly been gradually declining in the months before, including use of a wheelchair 5.
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Cited Sources
  1. Page, Susan. Time-tested formulas suggest both Bush and Kerry will win on Nov. 2. USA Today. June 23, 2004.

    Comment: Accessed through

  2. DeFrank, Thomas M. Write It When I'm Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2007.
    a  p.142
  3. Walker, Martin. The Cold War. New York: Henry Holt, 1995.
    a  p.247
  4. Carter, Jimmy. Christmas in Plains. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
    a  pp.117-120
  5. Amy Goldstein, Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan. Former President Jimmy Carter opts for home hospice care for final days. Washington Post. 18 February 2023.   Available on the web at:
Other Sources
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