Argentine President does not have cancer

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez had her thyroid gland removed amid fears of thyroid cancer. A detailed look at the tissues of her thyroid gland has shown no cancer authorities said Saturday.

The government announced late last December that the country's newly re-elected president had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer “on the right lobe of the thyroid gland” during a routine medical examination. Fernandez, who underwent the surgery at the Hospital Austral in Pilar on Wednesday, had left the hospital accompanied by her family. She is recovering at the presidential residence in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, the capital.

Presidential spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro said, “Tissue studies ruled out the presence of cancerous cells in the thyroid, thus modifying the initial diagnosis” Scoccimarro said the postoperative tests showed the cells in question were “adenoma”, not “carcinoma”. Fernandez doesn’t even have to swallow the radioactive iodine that patients usually take after thyroid cancer surgery, to make sure any remaining cancer cells are killed, her spokesman said. But she will have to take hormone medicine for the rest of her life.

Vice President and former Economy Minister Amado Boudou would run the country during Fernandez's 20-day medical leave, the spokesman said. Hundreds of supporters of the 59-year-old leader had camped near the hospital, carrying banners and praying until she was flown home.

Dr. R. Michael Tuttle, an endocrinologist at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, is chairman of a network of experts that writes the U.S. guidelines for dealing with thyroid cancers, has traveled to Argentina and has seen its quality of care. He says the president’s team did nothing wrong. “What I would assume was that the biopsy they did was read as papillary thyroid cancer, and 98 percent of the time they’d be right,” Tuttle said. “This two percent miss rate happens everywhere in world ... it happened to me last year,” he added. “Argentina has some of the leading thyroid cancer people in the world, so I don’t have any doubt that she was in really good hands.”

The 58-year-old president, through her spokesman, thanked the medical team led by the hospital’s surgery chief, Dr. Pedro Saco, an expert in cancers of the head and neck. Later Saturday, she added her own thoughts in a tweet, saying, “Now from Olivos, we thank all the people, citizens, activists and personalities, for the signs of affection and concern.”

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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