Austin is released from hospital after complications from prostate cancer surgery he kept secret

By LOLITA C. BALDOR and TARA COPP (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was released from the hospital on Monday, after spending two weeks there to treat complications from surgery for prostate cancer he kept secret from senior Biden administration leaders and staff for weeks.

Austin will be working from home as he recovers, and his doctors said he “progressed well throughout his stay and his strength is rebounding.” They said in a statement the cancer was treated early and his prognosis is “excellent.”

In a statement, Austin expressed thanks to the medical staff and said that “as I continue to recuperate and perform my duties from home, I’m eager to fully recover and return as quickly as possible to the Pentagon.”

Austin, 70, was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Dec. 22 and underwent surgery to treat the cancer, which was detected earlier in the month during a routine screening. He developed an infection a week later and was hospitalized Jan. 1 and admitted to intensive care.

Dr. John Maddox, the trauma medical director, and Dr. Gregory Chesnut, the director of the Center for Prostate Disease Research at Walter Reed, said that during Austin’s hospitalization he underwent medical tests and was treated for lingering leg pain. They said he has physical therapy to do but there are no plans for further cancer treatment other than regular checks.

President Joe Biden and senior administration officials were not told about Austin’s hospitalization until Jan. 4, and Austin kept the cancer diagnosis secret until Jan. 9. Biden has said Austin’s failure to tell him about the hospitalization was a lapse in judgment, but the Democratic president insists he still has confidence in his Pentagon chief.

During Austin’s time at Walter Reed, the U.S. launched a series of military strikes late last week on the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, targeting dozens of locations linked to their campaign of assaults on commercial shipping in the Red Sea. Working from his hospital bed, Austin juggled calls with senior military leaders, including Gen. Erik Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command, and White House meetings to review, order and ultimately watch the strikes unfold over secure video.