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Ashcroft has lesions removed from his skin

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General John Ashcroft recently had benign skin lesions removed from an ear and a shoulder.

Reporters initially noticed a small bandage on Ashcroft's ear Monday during a speech, and Justice officials on Tuesday acknowledged that the medical procedure took place last week.

Ashcroft, 59, a former Missouri governor and U.S. senator, spends time outdoors and owns a family farm in Missouri.

Doctors say it is common for people who spend long hours in the sun, such as Ashcroft on his farm, to develop skin lesions in their 50s, particularly around the face and neck. Nearly all are treated successfully by freezing, burning or cutting them off.