The Pentagon revealed Tuesday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was treated for prostate cancer, shortly after the White House launched a review into his being hospitalized for days without telling the president, the national security adviser, his own deputy, and members of Congress.
According to a Pentagon statement released on Tuesday, Austin underwent a “minimally invasive surgical procedure called a prostatectomy to treat and cure prostate cancer” that was identified in early December.
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According to the statement, he was under general anesthesia during the procedure, and he recovered uneventfully and returned home the next morning.
However, on Monday, January 1, 2024, Austin had complications from the surgery, including nausea with severe abdominal, hip, and leg pain, the statement said.
“Initial evaluation revealed a urinary tract infection. On January 2, the decision was made to transfer him to the ICU for close monitoring and a higher level of care,” the statement said.
His condition got more serious from there.
“Further evaluation revealed abdominal fluid collections impairing the function of his small intestines. This resulted in the back up of his intestinal contents which was treated by placing a tube through his nose to drain his stomach. The abdominal fluid collections were drained by non-surgical drain placement,” it said,
The statement indicated that Austin was still in the hospital.
“He has progressed steadily throughout his stay. His infection has cleared. 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,” it said.
According to the statement, written by Dr. John Maddox, Trauma Medical Director, and Dr. Gregory Chesnut, Center for Prostate Disease Research of the Murtha Cancer Center Director, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, “His prostate cancer was detected early, and his prognosis is excellent.”
The statement added, “Prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer among American men, and it impacts 1 in every 8 men — and 1 in every 6 African American men — during their lifetime.”
The Pentagon had initially described Austin’s first surgery as “elective.”
Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement on January 5 that first disclosed Austin’s hospitalization to the public. “On the evening of January 1, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for complications following a recent elective medical procedure. He is recovering well and is expecting to resume his full duties today. At all times, the Deputy Secretary of Defense was prepared to act for and exercise the powers of the Secretary, if required.”