Michael Caputo, the top spokesman at the Department of Health and Human Services who recently began a two-month medical leave, has been diagnosed with a metastatic head and neck cancer, a spokesman for the Caputo family said Thursday.
After undergoing surgery last week at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, doctors diagnosed Caputo with “squamous cell carcinoma, a metastatic head and neck cancer which originated in his throat,” the spokesman, David DiPietro, said in a statement.
Caputo is currently resting at home in western New York with his family, where they will “decide next steps in Michael’s care and recovery,” DePietro said.
Last week, HHS announced Caputo’s leave of absence from his post “to focus on his health and the well-being of his family.”
Caputo said in a statement last Wednesday that he planned to undergo “necessary screenings for a lymphatic issue discovered last week.”
He said he initially thought he was losing weight for months from a new exercise and diet regimen.
“Instead of taking the time to see my doctor, I failed to do so,” Caputo said, adding that he neglected during the pandemic to get the health care he long needed.
His temporary departure began a day after he apologized for a conspiracy theory-laden rant he made against career government scientists in which he accused them of “sedition” and working to undermine President Donald Trump.
Caputo, a fierce defender of the President, was appointed by Trump to his role as assistant secretary of public affairs for HHS not long after the pandemic began.
There have been growing concerns at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over perceived attempts, and specifically Caputo’s role, in politicizing the critical health agency amid the coronavirus pandemic.
CNN’s Sara Murray, Devan Cole and Nick Valencia contributed to this report.