Pentagon chief Austin's cancer prognosis is 'excellent,' no further treatments needed, doctors say

FILE - Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks at a virtual Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG) meeting, Nov. 22, 2023, at the Pentagon in Washington. Austin has been released from the hospital where he was treated for complications from surgery for prostate cancer he kept secret from senior Biden administration officials for weeks. Austin, 70, was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Dec. 22 and underwent surgery to treat cancer detected earlier in the month. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File) (Cliff Owen, Copyright 2023 the Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center say his prostate cancer prognosis is excellent and no further treatments will be needed after seeing him for a follow-up appointment Friday.

Austin, 70, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December and spent two weeks in the hospital following complications from a prostatectomy. Despite the complications, “his cancer was treated early and effectively, and his prognosis is excellent,” his doctors said Friday.

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The disclosure of the treatment Friday stood in contrast to the long silence about his hospitalization, which was kept secret for days not only from the public but from President Joe Biden.

Austin is expected to return to work at the Pentagon on Monday, a defense official said on the condition of anonymity to share details of Austin's return that were not yet announced.

“Beyond planned physical therapy and regular post-prostatectomy follow up appointments, he has no planned further treatment for his cancer,” Walter Reed trauma medical director Dr. John Maddox and Murtha Cancer Center director Dr. Gregory Chesnut said in a statement Friday.

Austin made his first public appearance earlier this week during a virtual Ukraine contact defense group meeting. Although visible only through a web camera. Austin appeared slightly gaunt.

Austin had what the Pentagon described as “minimally invasive surgical procedure," called a prostatectomy to treat the cancer on Dec. 22. He was under general anesthesia during this procedure and had transferred some authorities to his deputy defense secretary Kathleen Hicks. He was discharged the next day and continued to perform his duties.

Austin was taken by ambulance to Walter Reed on Jan. 1 in extreme pain and was admitted to the intensive care unit. He stayed there for two weeks.

Austin did not inform the White House or even his deputy that he'd been hospitalized and only told Biden about his diagnosis more than a week after he'd been admitted to the ICU. The incident has prompted both an internal Pentagon review and an IG review into its notification procedures. Both reviews are ongoing.

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