Defense Secretary Austin undergoes surgery for prostate cancer

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin, III, was recently hospitalized for a routine procedure, but he returned days later and was admitted for treatment of prostate cancer, a disease that affects large numbers of Black men, mostly over 65. Austin is 70.

Secretary Austin was admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on January 1, where physicians performed elective surgery. 

He was admitted to Walter Reed a second time on December 22. He was suffering from nausea and severe abdominal, hip, and leg pain. The initial evaluation revealed a urinary tract infection. 

Doctors decided to transfer Austin to the ICU for close monitoring after determining he was suffering from prostate cancer.

Further evaluation revealed an abdominal fluid collection impairing the function of his small intestines. 

This resulted in the backup of his intestinal contents, which was treated by placing a tube through his nose to drain his stomach.

Prostate cancer is the leading cause of illness and death among Black men.  

One in six Black men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime—compared to one in eight men overall. 

Black men are 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with—and 2.1 times more likely to die from prostate cancer than White men.

One of the men suffering from prostate cancer is former Los Angeles Lakers star Kareem Abdul Jabbar. He is 76.

Secretary Austin transferred authority to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks “due to his condition and based on medical advice.†Austin remains in the hospital, is recovering and in good spirits.