Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will undergo surgery next month to remove a cancerous tumor on her thyroid, a government spokesman announced late Tuesday, adding that the cancer had not spread.
Fernández, who was sworn in earlier this month to a second four-year term, was diagnosed with a papillary carcinoma that has not metastasized, said spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro in a televised address that took the entire nation by surprise. The operation is scheduled to take place next Wednesday and she is expected to take a leave of absence until January 24. Her vice president, Amado Boudou, will assume the presidency at that time. The tumor was detected during a routine medical examination on December 22. Papillary carcinoma is the most common type of thyroid cancer and normally affects women.
The 58-year-old Fernández, leader of the so-called Kirchner faction of the Peronist party, was easily re-elected to a second four-year term in October.
Fond of glamorous clothes and make-up, Fernández still wears black as she mourns her husband and closest advisor, former President Néstor Kirchner, who died of a heart attack over a year ago.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez underwent chemotherapy this year for a tumor near his pelvis while Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo's lymphatic cancer is in remission. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff also underwent treatment in 2009 for lymphoma while her predecessor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva began treatment for throat cancer last month.