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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - WASHINGTON —US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin suffered a urinary tract infection following surgery to treat a prostate cancer diagnosis, doctors have said.
In a statement, doctors emphasized that cancer was caught early and said that his "prognosis is excellent".
Austin, 70, faced criticism after it emerged senior defense officials and the White House did not learn of his hospital visit for three days.
He has apologized for not "ensuring the public was appropriately informed".
The Pentagon confirmed Austin remained hospitalized on Tuesday. A spokesman did not provide an update for when he would be discharged.
"Secretary Austin continues to recover well and remains in good spirits he's in contact with his senior staff and has full access to required secure communications capabilities and continues to monitor DoD his day to day operations worldwide," the spokesperson told reporters.
A check-up in December 2023 "identified prostate cancer which required treatment," doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the nation's top military hospital, said in a memo.
Austin was admitted to Walter Reed on Dec. 22, 2023 for a "minimally invasive" surgical procedure to remove the cancer.
He returned to the hospital on Jan. 1, 2024 after experiencing "complications" from the procedure, and an evaluation revealed a urinary tract infection. He was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit for further treatment.
Austin caused controversy when he reportedly failed to alert the White House and top Pentagon officials to this hospital stay.
Austin's deputy, Kathleen Hicks, was not informed of his hospital stay despite being asked to assume some of his responsibilities.
The defense secretary sits just below the president in the chain of command for the US military, and is one of the most important members of the president's Cabinet.
On Tuesday, White House chief of staff Jeff Zients directed members of the president's Cabinet to provide notice when they cannot perform their duties. — BBC
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