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Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner Cancer Operation Underway

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A little over a week after Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced that she has thyroid cancer, the Argentine President is undergoing surgery in a hospital about 30 miles north of Buenos Aires.

She will take three weeks off from work to recover, during which time Argentina's Vice President Amado Boudou will handle her responsibilities. Ms. Fernandez was sworn into office for a second term in early December after winning a landslide victory.

Ms. Fernandez is the lastest in a string of Latin America leaders to undergo cancer treatment, prompting Venezuela's Hugo Chavez (himself reportedly recently battling cancer) to ponder whether the United States had developed a technology to induce cancer in Latin America. Brazil's Lula and Paraguay's Fernando Lugo have also recently undergone surgeries for cancer.

According to CNN, no updates will be available until after Ms. Fernandez's roughly three-and-a-half-hour surgery is over.

From the Associated Press:

Experts say thyroid removals are about as routine as cancer surgeries can be, although the process is not without risk: surgeons must take care not to damage a nearby nerve that guides the vocal cords, or to remove the adjacent parathyroids, which regulate the body's calcium supply.

Patients should generally take care to relax their necks after surgery. Temporary hoarseness is common, and in rare cases, permanent voice changes can result. Patients also must swallow radioactive iodide for several days to destroy any cancerous remnants and provide for clearer images to detect any additional cancer, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Her chances are good -- according to Reuters, doctors predict that Fernandez has better than a 90 percent chance of recovery.

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