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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin released from hospital

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin

By Katharine Jackson and Ismail Shakil

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was released from the hospital on Monday, two weeks after being hospitalized due to complications from prostate cancer treatment, the Pentagon said.

Austin, 70, was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland on Dec. 22 to treat prostate cancer. He returned to the hospital on Jan. 1 due to complications including a urinary tract infection. His hospitalization was not revealed until four days later and the Pentagon did not specify why he was being treated until Jan. 9.

"I’m grateful for the excellent care I received at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and want to thank the outstanding doctors and nursing staff for their professionalism and superb support. I also am thankful and appreciative for all the well wishes I received for a speedy recovery," Austin said in a statement regarding his release.

Doctors at Walter Reed said the Pentagon chief had received testing and non-surgical care to address needs including leg pain and would not need further cancer treatment.

"Secretary Austin's prostate cancer was treated early and effectively, and his prognosis is excellent. He has no planned further treatment for his cancer other than regular post-prostatectomy surveillance," his doctors said in a statement released by the Pentagon.

Austin will work remotely with access to secure communications capabilities before returning to the Pentagon, the statement said.

President Joe Biden said on Friday he had confidence in Austin despite what the president agreed was a lapse in judgment by the Pentagon chief over his secret hospitalization.

Austin's failure to tell Biden he was hospitalized drew criticism from lawmakers and caught the White House by surprise.

The Defense Department's inspector general's office said on Thursday it will begin a review this month of the handling of Austin's hospitalization.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil and Katharine Jackson; Editing by Mark Porter and Lisa Shumaker)