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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin treated for prostate cancer – CNN

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin testifies at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill October 31, 2023 in Washington, DC.


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is being treated for prostate cancer and suffered complications that led to him being taken to hospital on New Year’s Day where he is still being treated, according to a statement Tuesday from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The statement revealed that the cancer was discovered in early December. He underwent a “minimally invasive surgical procedure” on December 22 called a prostatectomy to treat the cancer.

“He was under general anesthesia during this procedure. Secretary Austin recovered uneventfully from his surgery and returned home the next morning. His prostate cancer was detected early, and his prognosis is excellent,” the statement read.

It was previously unclear if Austin had been under anesthesia during the procedure, which the Pentagon had not previously disclosed and did not alert the White House to.

The Pentagon had been facing intense questions after it was revealed on Friday that he had been admitted to Walter Reed on January 1 and had been hospitalized for days without notifying the public. It was subsequently reported that President Joe Biden, senior national security officials and even Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks – who had assumed Austin’s duties – were not aware of the defense secretary’s hospitalization until three days after he was admitted.

On January 1, Austin was readmitted to the hospital due to complications “including nausea with severe abdominal, hip and leg pain.” He was found to have a urinary tract infection, the statement said.

Asked why Austin did not disclose that he was diagnosed with prostate cance — Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said the situation was “deeply personal.”

“[I]t’s prostate cancer and the associated procedures are obviously deeply personal,” Ryder said Tuesday during a news briefing at the Pentagon. “And so, again, you know, we’ll continue to work hard to make sure that we’re being as transparent as possible moving forward, and again, wish the secretary speedy recovery.”

For the last eight days of Austin’s time at Walter Reed in treating the infection, he “never lost consciousness and never underwent general anesthesia.”

Ryder did not answer a question about who decided to not inform Biden that Austin had prostate cancer.

“When this happened in December, whose decision was it not to alert the President that the defense secretary had prostate cancer?” a reporter asked during the briefing.

“You know, as far as the situation in terms of what the elective surgery was, and the Secretary’s condition, we’re providing that information to you as we’ve received it. We received that this afternoon and we’re providing it to you now,” Ryder said, appearing to say he did not know about the diagnosis until the statement from Walter Reed was released on Tuesday. “So I’ll just leave it there.”

Ryder also declined to say if Austin’s chief of staff — who is being identified as the person who failed to notify officials of Austin’s hospitalization last week because she had the flu — knew about Austin’s condition.

Ryder did not say if the secretary’s travel would be affected by his procedure or complications, but said Austin is “actively engaged in his duties” and in regular communication with his staff.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.