Lloyd Austin
Lloyd AustinREUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center announced in a statement today (Tuesday).

According to the statement, the cancer was discovered when Secretary Austin underwent a routine health screening in early December.  He then underwent a prostatectomy, which the hospital called a “minimally invasive surgical procedure,” on December 22.

“He was under general anesthesia during this procedure. Secretary Austin recovered uneventfully from his surgery and returned home the next morning. His prostate cancer was detected early, and his prognosis is excellent,” the hospital stated.

He was readmitted to Walter Reed on January 1 due to complications from the surgery, including nausea and severe pain, and was found to have a urinary tract infection.  He was hospitalized for multiple days.

On Sunday, it was revealed that US President Joe Biden was not aware of Austin's hospitalization for several days.

The Pentagon announced the hospitalization Friday. Austin issued his first statement on Saturday, five days after being admitted to the hospital, saying he could have done a “better job” of notifying the public.

In addition, CNN reported on Sunday that, when the deputy secretary of defense began assuming some of Austin’s responsibilities on January 2, not even she knew that it was because Austin was hospitalized.

Two defense officials told CNN that Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, the Pentagon’s No. 2 leader, was among the senior leaders kept in the dark about Austin’s true whereabouts until Thursday, three days after the secretary checked into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center following complications from an elective surgery.