Docs: Argentine leader's thyroid wasn't cancerous

By MICHAEL WARREN | January 7, 2012 | 6:16 PM EST

Rosa Calderon holds a picture of Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez that reads in Spanish "Be strong Cristina" outside the hospital where Fernandez will undergo surgery for thyroid cancer in Pilar, Argentina, Wednesday Jan. 4, 2012. The 58-year-old leader has papillary thyroid carcinoma, and her doctors said it was detected before it spread, so her condition should curable without chemotherapy. Vice President Amado Boudou will be in charge during the operation on Wednesday and for 20 days as she recovers. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentine President Cristina Fernandez didn't have cancer after all.

After having some of Argentina's leading cancer surgeons completely remove her thyroid gland, tests showed no presence of any cancerous cells in the tissue, presidential spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro said Saturday.

"The Presidential Medical Unit has the satisfaction of communicating that the team at the Austral University Hospital informed that tissue studies ruled out the presence of cancerous cells in the thyroid glands, thus modifying the initial diagnosis," Scoccimarro said.

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, the spokesman said.

Fernandez, who underwent the surgery Wednesday just 25 days after beginning her second term, is out of the hospital and recovering at the presidential residence in suburban Buenos Aires.

The trouble is that without her thyroid gland, the 58-year-old leader faces a lifetime of hormone replacement therapy.

Preoperative thyroid cancer diagnoses are notoriously difficult. Experts say figuring out whether growths are benign or malignant may be impossible without removing at least part of thyroid, and many doctors opt for removing the entire gland just to be sure.

In the president's case, it took postoperative tests to show that the cells in question were "adenoma" and not "carcinoma."

Fernandez expressed her thanks to the medical team led by the hospital's surgery chief, Dr. Pedro Saco, an expert in cancers of the head and neck.


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