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Austin hospitalized from prostate cancer surgery complications

Doctors said that Austin is recovering well but did not provide a release date.
The medical update follows a tumultuous week in which top U.S. officials didn’t know that Austin was hospitalized. | Maya Alleruzzo/AP

The medical update follows a tumultuous week in which top U.S. officials didn’t know that Austin was hospitalized. | Maya Alleruzzo/AP

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized since Jan. 1 for complications from a December surgery to treat prostate cancer, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center doctors announced Tuesday afternoon.

The disclosure comes amid controversy over the Pentagon’s decision to keep members of the national security team, including President Joe Biden, in the dark for several days over his condition.

In early December, Austin had a routine prostate screening, during which doctors discovered prostate cancer that required treatment, according to the statement.

On Dec. 22, he underwent a “minimally invasive” surgery while under general anesthesia to treat and cure the cancer, called prostatectomy, at Walter Reed. Austin recovered and was sent home.

   

 

On Dec. 22, he underwent a “minimally invasive” surgery while under general anesthesia to treat and cure the cancer, called prostatectomy, at Walter Reed. Austin recovered and was sent home.

On Jan. 1, he was admitted again to the hospital “with complications from the December 22 procedure, including nausea with severe abdominal, hip, and leg pain,” according to the statement from Dr. John Maddox and Dr. Gregory Chesnut. An initial evaluation found the cause to be a urinary tract infection.

The next day, Austin was transferred to an intensive care unit for close monitoring and “a higher level of care,” the statement read. Another evaluation found collections of abdominal fluid impaired the functions of his small intestines. A tube was placed through his nose to drain his stomach.

The doctors wrote that Austin is recovering well but did not provide a release date.

“He has progressed steadily throughout his stay,” the doctors wrote. “He continues to make progress and we anticipate a full recovery although this can be a slow process. During this stay, Secretary Austin never lost consciousness and never underwent general anesthesia.”

The medical update follows a tumultuous week in which top U.S. officials didn’t know that Austin was hospitalized.
 


 

Despite the fact that he was hospitalized on Jan. 1, Austin’s top staffers didn’t learn of the problem until the next day. Biden and national security adviser Jake Sullivan were notified on Jan. 4, and the next day, the Pentagon told members of Congress and released a statement to the media.

Austin has since apologized for the delay in disclosure, which prompted Republicans to call for the Pentagon chief to be fired. POLITICO reported that Biden has no plans to fire Austin and would not accept his resignation, but the White House and the Pentagon have launched reviews to ensure the proper channels are notified in an emergency.

“Secretary Austin continues to recover well and remains in good spirits,” Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday. He “has full access to required secure communications capabilities and continues to monitor operations worldwide.”

DOD “recognizes the understandable concerns expressed by the public, Congress and the news media in terms of notification timelines and DOD transparency. I want to underscore, again, Secretary Austin is taking responsibility for the issues with transparency and the department is taking immediate steps.”

Prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer among American men, according to the Pentagon statement on Tuesday. It impacts 1 in every 8 men — and 1 in every 6 African American men — during their lifetime.

“Despite the frequency of prostate cancer, discussions about screening, treatment, and support are often deeply personal and private ones. Early screening is important for detection and treatment of prostate cancer and people should talk to their doctors to see what screening is appropriate for them,” according to the statement.

Author: MATT BERG and LARA SELIGMAN

Source: Politico

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