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Argentine president’s thyroid wasn’t cancerous, doctors say

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentine President Cristina Fernandez didn’t have cancer after all.

After having some of Argentina’s leading cancer surgeons completely remove her thyroid gland, tests showed no presence of any cancerous cells.

“Tissue studies ruled out the presence of cancerous cells in the thyroid, thus modifying the initial diagnosis,” presidential spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro said Saturday.

Fernandez doesn’t even have to swallow the radioactive iodine that patients usually take after thyroid cancer surgery to make sure any remaining cancer cells are killed, her spokesman said.

Fernandez returned Saturday to the presidential residence in suburban Olivos. She underwent the surgery Wednesday, just 25 days after beginning her second term.

Without her thyroid gland, Fernandez now faces a lifetime of hormone replacement therapy.

This might have been avoided had doctors removed only half of her thyroid, the part surrounding the apparently cancerous nodule, said Dr. Robert Haddad, chief of head and neck oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

“That’s the downside. If you remove only half, you don’t need the replacement therapy,” Haddad said.

Some doctors and patients opt for removing the entire gland just to be sure, but Haddad said thyroid cancers tend to be so “well-behaving” that taking the more drastic step usually doesn’t make sense.