Faces Pentagon Questions Intensified after it was revealed on Friday that US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was hospitalized for several days without informing President Joe Biden, senior national security officials, or even Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense.
Austin was admitted to the hospital after a surgical procedure to treat prostate cancer. What are the details?
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer It is a tumor that originates in the prostate gland, which is part of the male reproductive system, and usually affects older men. If the disease is discovered early, the patient may suffer from limited and temporary side effects.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Prostate cancer occurs when cells in this gland grow out of control. If the cancerous tumor in this gland is detected early, it can be treated and cured.
Most prostate cancers grow very slowly. It usually takes at least 10 years for a tumor confined to the prostate to cause significant symptoms.
Many men with the disease can safely monitor their condition with regular medical tests and may never need harsh treatments such as surgery or radiation, without reducing their chances of survival.
Dr. Otis Brawley, a professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement to CNN: “Nearly half of men diagnosed with prostate cancer can be monitored and will never need treatment, because, yes, they have cancer, but it is “It's not aggressive, and it won't kill them.”
Symptoms of prostate cancer
Many patients do not experience any symptoms and are only diagnosed with a blood test called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Therefore, it is recommended to do early detection tests.
There are some symptoms that a number of patients feel, such as:
- Frequent urination or problems urinating.
- The presence of blood in the urine.
- Back or leg pain.
- Loss of appetite and bone pain (if the disease spreads).
When was Austin's prostate cancer discovered?
Austin's cancer was discovered in early December, according to a statement issued Tuesday from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
How was Austin's prostate cancer discovered?
Dr. Oliver Sartore, chief of the Genitourinary Cancers Group at Mayo Clinic, said it was reassuring that Austin's cancer was detected by a blood test.
Was Austin's prostate cancer detected early or late?
Austin's prostate cancer was caught early.
What is the blood test for prostate cancer?
The level of a protein called prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is checked, which is a protein produced by the prostate gland. When there is a problem with the prostate gland, it secretes more PSA, and high levels of PSA can be a sign of prostate cancer.
The researchers did not settle on one normal level of prostate-specific antigen. Previously, a level of 4.0 ng/mL or higher meant further testing was recommended, usually a prostate biopsy. During a biopsy, a health care provider removes a small sample of prostate tissue to examine it for cancer.
How dangerous is prostate cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American men, after lung cancer.
Although it can be serious, most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it, and the death rate has declined sharply over the past few decades.
What treatment did Austin undergo for prostate cancer?
Austin underwent surgery on December 22, called a prostatectomy, to treat the cancer.
The hospital statement said that the minister was under general anesthesia during this operation. He then recovered uneventfully from his surgery and went home the next morning.
Why did Austin go back to the hospital?
The reason is complications after surgery. On January 1, Austin was returned to the hospital suffering from nausea, severe abdominal, hip and leg pain, and a urinary tract infection.
Austin was admitted to intensive care on January 2 after doctors found fluid accumulation impairing small intestine function. The fluid was drained, and his doctors say he is improving.
What to expect for Austin's condition after prostate surgery?
African American men are 70% more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men, and more than twice as likely to die from the disease.
But Dr. Sartore said, “The worst types of prostate cancer are those that have spread and cannot be operated on. So the fact that he (Austin) underwent surgery is a relatively good sign to me.”
If prostate cancer is discovered after it has spread, the chance of surviving at least 5 years after diagnosis drops to 32%.
If it is discovered early, the survival rate for 5 years is approximately 100%.
The type of surgery Austin had to remove the prostate significantly reduces the risk of death within the next five years, Sartore said.
However, prostate cancer is known to be more aggressive in African-American men, Sartore said, and that may be the reason Austin chose to have surgery.
Prostate surgery complications like Austin's are “extremely rare,” said Dr. Michael Stiffelman, chief of urology at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. They occur in about 2 percent of surgical cases, he said.
When was Biden informed that Austin had prostate cancer?
A White House spokesman said that Biden was only informed on Tuesday of the Defense Secretary's diagnosis of prostate cancer, 18 days after he was admitted to the hospital to undergo surgery.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby added, “It is not ideal for a similar situation to pass for such a long time without the commander knowing” what is happening.
“If there are some changes that need to be made, you know, in terms of process and procedure, we will do that,” he told reporters at the White House.
He added: “Our primary focus now is on Secretary Austin's health and ensuring that he receives all the care and support he needs, until he fully recovers. That is the focus.”
Kirby noted that Austin has already resumed all of his job duties, explaining that he is “already doing all the jobs that he normally would do. He's doing it now from the hospital.”
For her part, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said that Biden has “full confidence” in Austin.
She added: “The president expressed his appreciation for Austin's statement and took full responsibility here. I think what is important is that he returns to the Pentagon and takes full responsibility.”