US defense chief re-hospitalized after prostate cancer treatment

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was re-admitted to a hospital with an unspecified bladder issue Sunday afternoon after being treated for prostate cancer in December, News.Az reports citing Anadolu Agency. 

Austin was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland by his security detail around 2.20 p.m. (1920GMT) "for symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue," Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement.

The defense chief "is retaining the functions and duties of his office," Ryder said, but noted that Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks is "prepared to assume the functions and duties of the Secretary of Defense, if required."

Austin was transported to Walter Reed with the communications systems he needs to carry out his duties.

He was scheduled to depart for a three-day trip to Brussels on Tuesday to take part in a meeting of allies to aid Ukraine and a separate meeting of his NATO ally counterparts.

The White House, Joint Chiefs Chairman CQ Brown, Hicks and Congress have been notified.

Austin stirred controversy in January after it was revealed that he had kept secret his treatment for prostate cancer and subsequent re-admission to Walter Reed in January. Not even US President Joe Biden was made aware of the secretary's condition, sparking calls for his resignation.

He is reportedly slated to testify before the House Armed Services Committee on his initial hospitalization later this month, according to online news website Axios.


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