Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Fernandez has cancer operation

A poster of Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez hung by a supporter outside the hospital where she had successful cancer surgery (AP)

Argentina's president is recovering after an operation to remove her cancerous thyroid gland.

Cristina Fernandez's surgery went without complications and all her vital signs were good, her spokesman said.

Doctors had expected a routine surgery and predicted a complete cure without chemotherapy, since tests showed the cancer had not spread beyond a nodule on the right side of her thyroid gland.

Vice President Amado Boudou was put in charge shortly before the operation, and will remain as constitutional leader for 20 more days while Ms Fernandez takes medical leave.

Ms Fernandez, 58, was found to have papillary thyroid carcinoma shortly after beginning her second four-year term as Argentina's leader last month

Experts say thyroid removals are about as routine as cancer surgeries can be, although the process is not without risk: surgeons must take care not to damage a nearby nerve that guides the vocal cords, or to remove the adjacent parathyroids, which regulate the body's calcium supply.

After surgery, patients take medicine - levothyroxine sodium - for the rest of their lives to replace a hormone that the thyroid glands produce. Blood tests every six to 12 months to measure thyroid levels also are recommended.

Ms Fernandez is the latest sitting South American leader to be diagnosed with cancer. Presidents Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Dilma Rousseff of Brazil all have undergone treatments recently.

Supporters waiting anxiously outside the hospital waved flags, carried handmade signs that said "Be Strong Cristina" and built small shrines to the populist leader, who won re-election with a 54% landslide in October. Many carried pictures showing Ms Fernandez and her late husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, who died of a heart attack in 2010.

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