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Defense Secretary Austin treated for prostate cancer, complications

Doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center said Lloyd Austin underwent a minimally invasive surgical procedure on Dec. 22.
Defense Secretary Austin treated for prostate cancer, complications
Posted at 3:08 PM, Jan 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-09 16:48:59-05

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was treated for complications from a prostate cancer procedure earlier this month, his doctors said in a statement on Tuesday.

Dr. John Maddox and Dr. Gregory Chesnut of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center said Austin underwent a minimally invasive surgical procedure on Dec. 22. 

"Secretary Austin recovered uneventfully from his surgery and returned home the next morning," the statement says. 

However, the doctors noted that Austin was admitted to the hospital again on Jan. 1 with complications from the Dec. 22 procedure. He was reportedly experiencing nausea and pain in his abdomen, leg and hip. 

Initially, doctors treated Austin for a urinary tract infection. They said he was then transferred to the intensive care unit so he could receive a higher level of care. 

"Further evaluation revealed abdominal fluid collections impairing the function of his small intestines," the doctors stated. 

Austin reportedly had a tube inserted through his nose to drain the fluid. This was not a surgical procedure, doctors said, noting that he never lost consciousness during his most recent stay. 

The infection has apparently cleared and doctors expect Austin to make a full recovery. 

Austin remains hospitalized, but the Pentagon said he is in contact with his staff. The lack of communication about the secretary's health issues has prompted questions about a lack of transparency. 

The Associated Press reported that the Pentagon did not reveal the hospital stay to the White House National Security Council until Thursday, and top adviser Jake Sullivan was reportedly unaware of Austin's hospital stay for days.

Austin said in a statement that he understood the concerns about transparency and would commit to "doing better."

The White House said President Joe Biden did not know about Austin's diagnosis until Tuesday. Despite being in the dark for several days, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Biden has "full confidence" in Austin. 

Meanwhile, White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients wrote a memo to cabinet secretaries on Tuesday to inform them that there is a review of agency protocols for delegating authority from cabinet members. 

SEE MORE: White House to review Lloyd Austin's lack of transparency on health


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