Mary Altaffer, Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate John McCain, with his wife, Cindy, speaks during a tour of an oil rig. McCain said that drilling for oil off the U.S. coast is an essential part of any plan to lower gas prices and cut dependence on foreign sources.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Republican Sen. John McCain said Monday he had had a small patch of skin removed from his face and biopsied as part of a regular checkup with his dermatologist.

"She said that I was doing fine," McCain, a three-time melanoma survivor, told reporters on a presidential campaign visit to an oil rig where he spoke briefly about his proposed energy plan. "She took a small little nick from my cheek, as she does regularly, and that will be biopsied just to make sure everything is fine."

The Arizona senator had the procedure performed near Phoenix during a checkup he undergoes every three months. He sported a small bandage on his upper right cheek on his campaign plane but had removed it by the time he spoke with reporters. A small, dark spot stood out on his face.

Later, the campaign issued a statement from Michael Yardley, chairman of public affairs at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz. Yardley said the biopsy was ordered "as a precaution" and "is a routine minor procedure."

McCain urged people to stay out of the sun and wear sunscreen, particularly during the summer.

"If you ever have any slight discoloration please go to your dermatologist or your doctor and get it checked out as soon as possible," he said.

Asked if his doctor was confident the problem was nothing serious, McCain replied, "Sure, sure."

The Arizona senator, who suffered severe sun damage from his 5 1/2 years in Vietnamese prison camps, gets an in-depth skin cancer check every few months because of a medical history of dangerous melanomas.

McCain also Monday said that drilling for oil off the U.S. coast is an essential part of any plan to lower gas prices and reduce dependence on foreign sources, and he criticized Democrat Barack Obama for opposing it.

"We all know that a comprehensive solution is wind, tide, solar, all the other things all of us believe in," McCain told reporters after touring San Joaquin Facilities Management, an oil company in the California desert that yields 1,100 barrels a day. "In the meantime, as we develop all of these alternate sources of energy, it will be vital that we continue oil production at a high level, including offshore drilling."