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Questioninfo icon

Does Putin Have Cancer?

Answerinfo icon

No, Putin does not have cancer, and has not had cancer in the last 10 years.

(86% probability)

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For most of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s time in office, he has successfully cultivated a public image as a healthy, virile leader. However, his recent public appearances have been followed by claims of ill-health.


Since these public appearances, rumors of Putin’s ill-health have surfaced, with overlapping claims of Parkinson's disease, major back problems, and various cancers. However, the most substantial claim to date, and the one that has most alleged pieces of evidence, is of thyroid cancer. Other specific cancers such as blood or bowel cancer have also been claimed over the years by various sources, but without enough substantial alleged evidence for Rootclaim to assess them separately, so they will be assessed together. There is, of course, the possibility that Putin has an as-of-yet undiagnosed cancer which, naturally, he is not receiving treatment for - this possibility is included in the 'no cancer' hypothesis. The destabilising effect of an incapacitated, seriously-ill, or deceased Russian President, on Russia and on the world as a whole, is serious. Given the lack of clear cut evidence, a probabilistic unbiased analysis of all available evidence could provide some much needed clarity.


Note: Independent Russian media outlet, Proekt, released an analysis on 1st April 2022 which is the most comprehensive compilation of the various claims made about Putin’s health to date. It is also the source of the strongest piece of alleged evidence to date for Putin’s ill health: a list of doctors’ visits to Sochi, claimed to coincide with Putin’s visits. Rootclaim approached Proekt in private correspondence and publicly on Twitter for access to their full dataset, but Proekt did not respond. This analysis is our best assessment of the evidence given the access to the information that we currently have. From a search of the limited database available, for now, that means Rootclaim can verify less than 50% of the total days Proekt claims the doctors were in Sochi. For this reason Rootclaim considers it likely, but not certain, that the specific doctors’ visits mentioned in the Proekt analysis have been cherry-picked.


If, in the future, Rootclaim can corroborate more of the doctor visits, or rule out cherry-picking through verifying Proekt’s data, the results of this analysis may change.`

Hypotheses Consideredinfo icon

Calculated Resultsinfo icon

Calculated Resultsinfo icon

1

86%
No cancer:

No, Putin does not have cancer, and has not had cancer in the last 10 years.

86%

2

13%
Any cancer:

Yes, Putin either has, or had within the last 10 years, any type of cancer (excluding thyroid).

13%

3

0.5%
Thyroid cancer:

Yes, Putin either has, or had in the last 10 years, thyroid cancer.

0.5%

Starting Pointinfo icon

Initial Probabilities

Name
Initial Likelihoods
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Any cancer
10%
Thyroid cancer
0.8%
No cancer
89%

Russian males between the ages of 60-69 are 14.32% likely to develop any cancer (excluding thyroid), 0.08% likely to develop thyroid cancer, and 85.6% likely to not develop any cancer. Rootclaim adjusted these probabilities based on Putin's specific characteristics and normalized them - giving the initial likelihoods shown here.

Name
Initial Likelihoods
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Any cancer
10%
Thyroid cancer
0.8%
No cancer
89%

Evidenceinfo icon

Effectinfo icon

COVID-19 Precautions

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

Any cancer
×1.1
11%
Thyroid cancer
×1.1
0.8%
No cancer
×1
88%

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been claimed that President Putin has taken more precautionary measures than other world leaders.

However, a more detailed analysis reveals only marginal differences between Putin's precautionary measures and those of other world leaders.

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

Any cancer
×1.1
11%
Thyroid cancer
×1.1
0.8%
No cancer
×1
88%

Disappearances

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

Any cancer
÷4
3.1%
Thyroid cancer
÷3.3
0.3%
No cancer
×1
97%

Multiple disappearances of Putin from public view over the years have sparked rumors that he may have fallen ill or undergone surgery or treatment for cancer.

However, the wide gaps between the alleged disappearances and their longevity over the course of a decade do not support the two cancer hypotheses. 

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

Any cancer
÷4
3.1%
Thyroid cancer
÷3.3
0.3%
No cancer
×1
97%

Doctors' visits

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

Any cancer
÷2.5
4.9%
Thyroid cancer
÷2.1
0.5%
No cancer
÷4
95%

Proekt claims to have uncovered a patient-doctor relationship between Putin and a variety of doctors who stayed in Sochi, paid for by the Administrative Directorate of the President of the Russian Federation. Some of these doctors specialize in oncology (thyroid) and Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT), leading to the claim that Putin suffers from thyroid cancer.

However, our analysis finds Proekt’s analysis to be likely inaccurate, making its impact minor.

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

Any cancer
÷2.5
4.9%
Thyroid cancer
÷2.1
0.5%
No cancer
÷4
95%

Swollen face

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

Any cancer
÷2.7
22%
Thyroid cancer
÷15
0.4%
No cancer
÷15
77%

In some recent public appearances, Putin has a noticeably larger face. Some claim that this puffiness is the result of swelling caused by steroids taken as a way to mitigate the side effects of chemotherapy.

Nevertheless, there are other more probable reasons why Putin might be taking steroids, and other reasons why his face may have enlarged.

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

Any cancer
÷2.7
22%
Thyroid cancer
÷15
0.4%
No cancer
÷15
77%

Missing hair loss

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

Any cancer
÷1.8
13%
Thyroid cancer
×1
0.5%
No cancer
×1
86%

If Putin had a particularly difficult-to-treat cancer over the course of the past decade, we likely expect him to be treated with chemotherapy, which would cause hair loss.

While Putin’s hair may have thinned over the past decade, he has not lost his hair in a way indicative of chemotherapy.

Name

Effectinfo icon

Updated Likelihoods

Any cancer
÷1.8
13%
Thyroid cancer
×1
0.5%
No cancer
×1
86%