The White House said that President Joe Biden only found out on Tuesday that the US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has cancer and is receiving treatment.
Mr Austin, who is 70 years old, went to the hospital on January 1st. After having surgery in December, he had some problems and had to go to the intensive care unit.
He got in trouble for not telling the higher-ups about it for a few days.
He said sorry for not making sure the public got the right information.
The delay in telling the White House about something important could be a problem for national security and causes questions about how open the Biden administration is being.
The defense secretary is an important person in the US military and works closely with the president.
The Pentagon said that Mr. Austin was still in the hospital on Tuesday. A person speaking for the hospital didn’t say when the patient would be able to leave.
“Secretary Austin is doing well and is in good spirits. He is in touch with his senior staff and has access to the necessary secure communication technology. He is also keeping an eye on day to day operations at the Department of Defense worldwide,” the spokesperson said.
The doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center found prostate cancer during Mr. Austin’s check-up in December 2023, and he needs treatment for it.
Mr Austin had a small surgery in the hospital on December 22nd to remove the cancer. He was put to sleep with medicine for this procedure.
He went back to Walter Reed on 1 January 2024 because he had some problems, and the doctors found out he had a urinary tract infection. The next day, he was moved to the intensive care unit for more treatment because he had abdominal fluid that was affecting his small intestines.
He never passed out or went under deep sleep for surgery. Mr Austin’s infection is gone and he is getting better. We expect him to fully recover, but it might take some time.
The doctors said that they found the cancer early and think he will get better.
On Tuesday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that President Biden was told that he has prostate cancer.
“He said no one at the White House knew Secretary Austin had prostate cancer until this morning. ”
He said the president was worried about the secretary’s health at first, but admitted that the way it was communicated wasn’t great.
“Mr Kirby said things are not going as planned. ”
Mr Biden and Sec Austin haven’t talked since the weekend, based on what Mr.
Kathleen Hicks, the person who helps Mr. Austin, didn’t know he was in the hospital even though she was supposed to do some of his work.
During a meeting on Tuesday, the Pentagon’s spokesperson, Air Force Maj Gen Pat Ryder, did not say why Mr. Austin didn’t talk about his condition earlier.
“I don’t have that exactly,” he said, but mentioned that being diagnosed with prostate cancer is very personal. The Pentagon said that a important person was sick with the flu which caused the failure.
Mr Ryder said they are looking at how they let people know about hospital stays to try to do a better job next time.
On Tuesday, the boss at the White House told the president’s helpers to let him know if they can’t do their jobs.