WASHINGTON (AP) — The Cuban government says a test shows an American imprisoned in Cuba doesn’t have cancer, countering a previous statement by a US doctor that a mass on the man’s shoulder should be considered cancerous unless proven harmless.
Cuban and US officials met Monday to discuss Alan Gross’ health, Cuban officials said in a statement Wednesday. Officials discussed an Oct. 24 biopsy that confirmed that a lump on Gross’ right shoulder is not cancerous.
The one-page statement from Cuba’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs said the test “could not be performed before due to Mr. Gross’ refusal,” and that Gross’ wife was given the test results during a meeting Monday in Washington, where she lives.
The Cuban medical team treating Gross said “the general health condition of Mr. Gross is normal,” though he is being treated for “chronic illnesses that are typical of his age.”
His case has become a source of tension in US-Cuba relations. Both sides have spent months going back and forth with statements about the growth on his shoulder. His lawyer and family want Gross to be examined by a doctor of their choosing. The Cuban government has said his health is fine.
Rabbi Elie Abadie, who is also a gastroenterologist, said he examined Gross and received a lengthy briefing from Cuban physicians
Gross, 63, was arrested in Cuba in late 2009 while on a USAID-funded democracy-building program and sentenced to 15 years for crimes against the state. He says he was only trying to help the island’s small Jewish community gain Internet access.
A New York rabbi who saw Gross on Tuesday also said the growth was not cancerous. Rabbi Elie Abadie, who is also a gastroenterologist, said that he had examined Gross and received a lengthy briefing from the team of Cuban physicians who have treated him.
On Wednesday, one of Gross’ US lawyers, Jared Genser, questioned the results of the biopsy and repeated requests that Gross be allowed to choose a doctor to examine him. Genser said in a statement that the biopsy removed fluid, but it wasn’t clear that it removed tissue, a recommendation of doctors. Genser also questioned the public release of medical records without Gross’ consent.
“We urge the Cuban government to allow this to happen promptly so we can put questions about Mr. Gross’s health to rest,” Genser said in a statement.
A US doctor who previously reviewed tests performed on Gross in Cuba has said they were inadequate. Dr. Alan A. Cohen, a radiologist, said in October before the biopsy that the mass “has yet to be properly evaluated.” Cohen suggested it would be preferable if Gross were immediately examined at a facility in the United States.
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