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HHS spokesman Michael Caputo diagnosed with cancer

Michael Caputo said he'd delayed seeking medical treatment for a lump on his neck because of the pandemic. File Photo courtesy Department of Health and Human Services
Michael Caputo said he'd delayed seeking medical treatment for a lump on his neck because of the pandemic. File Photo courtesy Department of Health and Human Services

Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Michael Caputo, the chief communications official at the Department of Health and Human Services, has been diagnosed with cancer, a week after taking a medical leave of absence, his family spokesman said Thursday.

Caputo underwent surgery last week at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., where doctors determined he had "squamous cell carcinoma, a metastatic head and neck cancer which originated in his throat," spokesman David DiPietro said.

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"He is now home in Western New York, resting in the loving arms of his family, under the watchful eye of Jesus Christ," added DiPietro, who also is a member of the New York Assembly.

Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the HHS, told The Buffalo News he had been in pain in recent months after discovering a "walnut-sized" bump on his neck. He said he delayed seeking treatment because of the pandemic.

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"It's something I've been dealing with for months but didn't do anything about it, even though I work in a building full of doctors," he said.

Caputo went on medical leave last week, days after promoting conspiracies about the department on his Facebook page. He urged supporters of President Donald Trump to prepare for an armed insurrection and accused HHS scientists of "sedition" in a Facebook live video.

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In the since-deleted Facebook Live video, Caputo accused the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which is part of the HHS, of harboring a "resistance unit" seeking to undermine Trump.

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He also encouraged Trump supporters to take up weapons after predicting Trump would win the election but Democratic nominee Joe Biden would refuse to concede.

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