Latin America & Caribbean

Argentine President Fernandez 'did not have cancer'

A supporter of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner waits with her poster outside the Austral Hospital in Pilar, Buenos Aires on Wednesday as she underwent surgery for thyroid cancer
Image caption Supporters had gathered in vigil at the hospital where Ms Fernandez was undergoing treatment

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner did not have cancer after all, the presidential spokesman has said.

Ms Fernandez underwent an operation last Wednesday aimed at treating suspected thyroid cancer.

Supporters gathered in vigil at the hospital amid huge public interest.

But post-operative tests had definitively ruled out the presence of cancerous cells in removed nodules, spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro said.

The news was greeted with cheers of astonishment and relief when it was announced to supporters outside the Austral University Hospital in Pilar, some 60km (40 miles) from the Argentine capital Buenos Aires.

With the new diagnosis, Ms Fernandez's medical team "considers that the surgical treatment undertaken is sufficient and the administration of radioactive iodine is no longer necessary", Mr Scoccimarro said.

Popular leader

He said the president was thankful for the affection and concern for her health she had received.

She has been released from hospital and is convalescing at her official residence, he added.

Ms Fernandez, 58, won re-election with a landslide 54% of the vote in October, and is popular among Argentines who agree with her generous welfare programmes.

She had been believed to be suffering a papillary thyroid carcinoma, but doctors say it can be difficult to test definitively for the presence of the cancer without removing the thyroid gland in its entirety.

She was one of several Latin American leaders diagnosed with cancer in recent times.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Paraguayan leader Fernando Lugo, and former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have all been operated on in the past year.

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